A simple blood test could be the key to understanding your risk of heart disease.
One of the key ways health care providers measure a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease is through a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test shows the levels of beneficial and harmful lipids (or fats) that are present in the bloodstream. Generally, the higher the amount of “bad” cholesterol, the higher a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
However, research suggests that a specific protein found in the “bad” cholesterol, called Apolipoprotein B, is actually a more reliable indicator of overall cardiovascular disease risk compared to a standard lipid panel.
What Is Apo B?
Apolipoprotein B, also known as Apo B, is a protein found in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Its primary function is to transfer lipids into the bloodstream.
How Does an Apo B Test Predict Cardiovascular Disease Risk?
Research suggests that Apo B testing is a more accurate predictor of cardiovascular disease risk than a standard lipid panel.
- Total cholesterol. This is the sum total of the cholesterol content found in a person’s blood.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is known as “bad” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can cause the buildup of fatty plaque deposits in the arteries, which reduces blood flow and leads to blockages.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This is known as “good” cholesterol. It helps carry LDL cholesterol away from the arteries, thus preventing plaque buildup.
- Triglycerides. This is a type of fat in the blood created when the body converts calories it doesn’t need into fat cells.
Traditionally, health care providers would use the results of a lipid panel, particularly total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, to determine a person’s risk of heart disease. However, recent research indicates that measuring Apo B levels can provide an even more accurate picture of a person’s heart health.
Why Is Getting an Apo B Test Important?
Apo B testing can provide a more comprehensive evaluation of a person’s cardiovascular health. Higher levels of Apo B in the blood have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.