Inflammation Profiles & Heart Disease
Inflammation is a key component of many diseases, including all forms of heart disease. Over the past several years, physicians have begun to recognize the critical importance of measuring inflammation markers in the diagnosis of heart disease and its progression. Testing for inflammation can provide us with an opportunity to catch heart disease before it becomes critical. As part of the process of developing your overall preventive care plan, we may test for some of the following:
Your body responds to arterial damage by trying to repair it. MPO is released during the process of inflammation, even at the early stages. It provides a specific, identifiable indication of damage that is more specific to atherosclerosis and unlikely to be associated with chronic infections. People with high levels of MPO are more than twice as likely to experience heart attacks or other cardiac events, even those who would be otherwise considered low-risk.
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2)
Lp-PLA2 is carried in the blood with LDL cholesterol, and has been shown to possess a high correlation to heart disease and stroke. (A meta-analysis of 79,000 patients demonstrated a risk factor similar to that in patients with poor cholesterol profiles and high blood pressure.) Unlike C-reactive protein (CRP), Lp-PLA2 levels do not rise with colds or infections, providing a clearer picture than with CRP testing alone. Elevated Lp-PLA2 is a direct measure of artery wall health, and indicates that plaque is inflamed to a more advanced degree.
High Sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)
The standard CRP test can be an excellent indication of inflammation. CRP levels rise when the body responds to trauma, such as a disease or an injury, and this tells us that the body is working to repair itself. But heart disease is the product of long-term, chronic inflammation. In order to understand the progression of the disease, we need to understand how much inflammation is present all the time. This high-sensitivity test creates a more precise standard baseline, allowing us to understand and chart long-term progress as we work to decrease levels of heart disease.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The CBC measures a large number of blood components (various types of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) to determine how many of each type are present. High or low numbers of various cell types can give us an indication of a wide range of conditions.
This test is done routinely as a part of most annual physical exams. Think of it as a good early diagnostic: if something is flagged, it’s the indicator light on the dashboard telling you to pay attention so you don’t end up stuck on the side of the road, steam billowing from under the hood.