The Cardiovascular System Comprehensive Profile evaluates conventional and innovative biomarkers, to help early detection and subsequent modification of the risk factors associated with the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. The profile includes 19 different tests, including Oxidized LDL and Lipoprotein a, which are higher in patients with cardiovascular disease and are associated with the severity of the disease. Risk factor assessment provides information of great preventive value and helps to plan individualized therapeutic interventions.
Why is it necessary to test the Cardiovascular System?
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death for both men and women and are responsible for at least 25% of all deaths. Certain conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, as well as certain lifestyle choices, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
The aging of the population presents an ever-increasing need for an accurate and comprehensive assessment of biochemical factors associated with cardiovascular diseases.
With appropriate individualized therapeutic interventions based on the recognition of these markers, cardiovascular diseases can be largely prevented.
Risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease
Risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases are divided into 2 major groups:
Non-modifiable risk factors
- Genetic background
- Family history
Modifiable risk factors
- Bad nutrition
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Reduced physical activity
- Diabetes mellitus
- Metabolic syndrome
What does the Cardiovascular System Basic Profile include?
Total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol, "good" HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides are traditionally measured to assess the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, recent studies show that some newer biomarkers may offer even better results in risk assessment. For example, the measurement of oxidized LDL cholesterol is more specific and is directly involved in the formation and progression of atherosclerotic plaque.
Levels of apolipoproteins A1 and B, specific HDL and LDL protein components, are also good prognostic risk indicators.
Depending on the results of the lipid profile and other risk factors, treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, or even dietary supplements or medications.
Apolipoprotein A1 (Apo A1): Apo A1 is a protein that has a specific role in lipid metabolism and is the main protein constituent of HDL, the "good cholesterol". HDL removes excess cholesterol from the cells and returns it to the liver for recycling or elimination. Apo A1 levels tend to rise and fall along with HDL levels, and Apo A1 deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Apolipoprotein B (Apo B): Apo B is a protein involved in lipid metabolism and is the major protein component of lipoproteins, such as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol). Apo B concentrations tend to reflect those of LDL cholesterol. Abnormal Apo B levels may be due to certain genetic disorders or certain pathological conditions (hyper- and hypothyroidism, cirrhosis, diabetes, taking certain medications, etc.)
Lipoprotein A [Lp (a)]: Lp (a) is a lipoprotein consisting of an LDL molecule along with a protein (apolipoprotein (a)). Lp (a) is similar to LDL cholesterol but does not respond to standard LDL reduction approaches such as diet, exercise, and most lipid-lowering drugs. Since Lp (a) levels appear to be genetically determined and are not easy to modify, the presence of high Lp (a) levels can be used to identify individuals who benefit from more aggressive treatment of other risk factors.
CRP: Arterial damage is associated with the entry of white blood cells into the blood vessels walls and the initiation of inflammation, which increases the blood levels of an acute-phase protein, C-reactive protein (CRP). For example, patients with moderately elevated CRP levels are more likely to develop a stroke, myocardial infarction, and severe peripheral arterial disease. Although the high sensitivity measurement of CRP is not specific to cardiovascular disease, its measurement is a valuable asset for comprehensive cardiovascular disease risk assessment.
Homocysteine: Homocysteine is an amino acid that is found in very small amounts in all cells of the body. This is because the body normally converts very quickly homocysteine to other products. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Homocysteine increases the risk of cardiovascular disease because it can damage the blood vessels walls and cause blood clots formation.
Fibrinogen: Fibrinogen is a protein that is necessary for the formation of blood clots (coagulation mechanism). Measurement of fibrinogen may provide additional information leading to more aggressive treatment of modifiable risk factors.
Glycosylated Hemoglobin: Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a type of hemoglobin that is "covered" with glucose. High blood sugar levels lead to an increase in HbA1c. This test shows the average level of blood glucose during the previous 6 to 12 weeks. It is used to evaluate diabetes mellitus and its treatment.
Insulin: Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows the body's cells to absorb glucose from the blood. In insulin resistance, the body's cells are not sensitive to insulin. As a result, the cells are unable to properly absorb glucose and thus accumulate in the blood. The pancreas tries to compensate for this imbalance by producing more and more insulin. Used to evaluate diabetes mellitus and its treatment.
LP-PLA2 (PLAC test): Lipoprotein Phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) is an enzyme that appears to play a role in vascular inflammation and is involved in the development of atherosclerosis. Recent studies show that Lp-PLA2 is an independent marker of risk for cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Unlike hsCRP, the measurement of Lp-PLA2 is not affected by other conditions that can cause general inflammation and so can be used when one already has an inflammatory condition, such as e.g. rheumatoid arthritis. Elevated Lp-PLA2 levels mean an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease or ischemic stroke.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): TSH test is very useful in checking the risk of developing cardiovascular disease because both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can lead to impaired lipid metabolism and the development of dyslipidemia.