Health aware Americans, confident in their knowledge about cholesterol, may be surprised by the truth about some of the assumptions they’ve long taken for granted – just knowing the numbers is no longer enough:
Myth No. 1: If my total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are in the normal range then I don’t need to worry about heart disease.
Wrong. Patients who see their total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol readings as “normal” may actually still be at risk because standard cholesterol tests usually fail to measure many cholesterol abnormalities that can lead to heart disease. In fact, almost half of all patients who have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol, as measured by the standard cholesterol test.
Myth No. 2: If I exercise and eat healthy, I don’t need to worry about heart disease.
Wrong again. Many people who are genuinely at risk already exercise and eat right. Their added risk is genetic; a recent study of male twins, one half lean and athletic and the other heavier and more sedentary, found that each set of brothers tended to show the same cholesterol response to high-fat and low-fat diets regardless.
Myth No. 3: Women have it easier and aren’t as susceptible to heart disease as men.
This myth really is dangerous – cardiovascular disease is in fact the No.1 cause of death in women. In fact, nearly twice as many American women die of heart disease and stroke as from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and women tend to have higher cholesterol than men starting in their 40s.
Myth No. 4: The standard cholesterol test gives an accurate measure of LDL cholesterol.
Wrong again – most cholesterol tests only estimate LDL cholesterol, rather than directly measuring it, and this can result in a significant underestimation of a patient’s LDL level and resulting heart disease risk.
Myth No. 5: If my good cholesterol (HDL) is high, I am protected against heart disease.
This may appear true, but there’s a catch: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) consists of subclasses (HDL2 and HDL3). While people with higher HDL2 are more protected against heart disease, those with more HDL3 may actually be at increased risk even if they have normal total HDL.
What Can I Do?
A new, expanded cholesterol test debunks these myths by identifying up to 90 percent of people at risk for cardiovascular diseases – nearly twice the rate of routine cholesterol tests. The VAP® Cholesterol Test directly measures total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides. It also goes further by providing more detailed figures that can help your doctor better assess your true risk of heart disease. This simple blood test is available nationwide through national and regional diagnostic laboratories and is reimbursed by most insurance companies, including Medicare.