Dyslipidemia indicates the presence of increased cholesterol in the blood. In general the cholesterol in the body is categorized as good and bad forms, thus referring to its functionality. Good cholesterol also known as high density lipoproteins are required for the body to carry out regular metabolic activities. Estimation of triglyceride levels in the blood serves as a key factor in identifying the amount of disordered fats in the body or dyslipidemia. Dyslipidemia is one of the important causes for the onset of coronary artery disease.
Clinical evaluations of blood cholesterol levels
Clinical presentation of blood cholesterol levels aids estimation of the onset of conditions such as dyslipidemia which leads to cardio vascular disease. Blood cholesterol determination includes the estimation of high density lipoproteins, triglycerides and low density lipoproteins. Values in the case of dyslipidemia contain increased total cholesterol levels i.e. high LDL levels and decreased HDL levels. These levels are checked on fasting for at least 10 hours. Clinical interventions are recommended in the treatment of dyslipidemia to understand the possibility of cardio vascular disease in a patient and to differentiate the primary and secondary categories of this disease.
Diabetes and dyslipidemia
Type 2 diabetes is an underlying medical condition in which dyslipidemia is often noticed. It is measured by the lipid profile analysis. Insulin resistance is the predominant cause of low serum HDL. Insulin resistance promotes another condition called hypertriglyceridemia. This eventually leads to the increase of LDL or low density lipoproteins in the blood which can initiate the onset of atherosclerosis. Patients suffering diabetes with increased values of LDL and VLDL fall under the risk group for coronary artery disease. In addition to this, the metabolism of lipids is directly associated with the release of thyroid hormone. In patients with diabetes and hypothyroidism, the chance of cardiovascular disease is imminent.
Dyslipidemia can occur because of various factors. Most of them are induced by altered lifestyle patterns affecting the metabolism of a person. Obesity is the predominant cause of cardiovascular disease which is directly associated with the presence of dyslipidemia in the person. Symptoms associated are lethargy, gasping and difficulty in participating in any kind of physical activity. Alcohol consumption is also a major cause for the onset of dyslipidemia as it is related to the damage caused to the liver which produces major enzymes for lipid metabolism and fat emulsification processes. Other caused include Cushing's syndrome, Polycystic ovarian disease and liver cirrhosis.
Dyslipidemia is a condition which is treated with effective counseling about healthy lifestyle choices. Eating right and handling stressful factors can subsequently act on the regulation of metabolism. Patients are advised to exercise regularly to prevent the onset of atherosclerosis caused because of dyslipidemia.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral for the metabolism of carbohydrates. It helps to regulate blood sugar and deter diabetes, control fat and cholesterol levels in the blood and control hypertension. The best source of chromium is brewer’s yeast. It can also be found in grains, cereals, and in large amounts in some beers. Chromium mineral is stored in the liver, spleen and bone. The body can lose chromium due to a diet high in simple sugars. Chromium mineral is lost in the body under some conditions like infection, excessive exercise, pregnancy and stress.
Adequate input levels of about 30 micrograms (mcg) for an adult male and about 20 micrograms for an adult woman per day are required to counter the effects of deficiency. Chromium deficiency results in lowering the body's ability to adequately utilize glucose and may also affect lipid metabolism. Oral absorption of Chromium (Cr) is low and the absorption is improved in the presence of Vitamin C and Niacin. Chromium bio availability is improved when it is in the form of Chromium Picolinate.
Heart Calcium Scan
Heart calcium scan also known as Coronary Calcium Scan is what the doctor will use to look for calcium deposits in coronary arteries. Such calcium deposits can narrow arteries and thereby increase heart attack risk. The result of this scan is called Coronary Calcium Score. Heart calcium scans are non-invasive techniques to measure the amount of calcium in the walls of coronary arteries – arteries that supply heart with blood. This is an indication that they may develop coronary artery disease.
Why heart calcium scans?
These scans show a higher risk of having a heart attack or any other problems before any symptoms of heart disease become obvious. However, the American College of Cardiology does not recommend routine heart scans on people who do not exhibit any symptoms of heart disease and who do not smoke or have cardiac risk factors such as elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Heart scans is useful to whom?
In those who are in intermediate heart attack risk category, a heart scan may give information about heart attack risk. Based on risk factors, having a heart attack in the next 10 years falls somewhere between 10 and 20 %. For instance, if the patient is between ages 55 and 65 years and bordering on high cholesterol or blood pressure or a smoker, then a heart scan may be considered. As there is some evidence that people with calcium scores show risk of heart disease, many would be motivated to adopt lifestyle changes, lose weight or quit smoking than those who do not undergo heart scan.
Who do not benefit from heart scans?
If a person is younger than 55 years of age and has normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and does not smoke, heart attack percentage is calculated less than 10 % and falls under low-risk category. Probably, in such cases, a heart scan may not reveal anything more than what the doctor already knows.
A 20 % risk or greater risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years means at high risk. If the person is older than age 65 with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and does smoke, then a heart scan will not do much good because the doctor knows the risk based on risk factors and the steps to prevent a heart attack such as taking medications and making significant changes in life style. If the person has already had a heart attack or a surgical procedure, then he is at a high risk of having a heart attack and therefore a heart scan will not provide any more information on how his/her condition should be treated.
Preparing for a heart scan
It is better to visit the doctor prior to the heart scan as this can provide additional information on the heart attack risk for a doctor to consider. The examination will include:
1. A review of the medical history and the patient's family medical history.
2. A physical examination including blood pressure.
3. A risk assessment including questions about exercise and smoking habits.
4. Blood tests including cholesterol levels.
5. The doctor has to be told if a woman is pregnant. This test is not done on pregnant woman.
Other than these, there are no special preparations to have before the heart scan.
The procedure and after
A coronary calcium scan is usually done by a radiology technologist. The pictures are interpreted by a radiologist. A team of family medical practitioner, internist, cardiologist or surgeon may also review this test. Heart calcium scans takes only a few seconds and during this procedure the patient is asked to hold their breath to obtain an accurate image. The scan shows the calcium in the heart arteries by using computerized tomography (CT).
Calcium deposits show up as bright white spots on the scan. The standard imaging technique for coronary arteries uses multi slice or helical CT. In addition to calcium, such scans also reveal the presence of any narrowing of heart arteries due to coronary artery disease. After the procedure there are no special precautions and the patient should be able to drive home and continue daily activities.
If calcium score is high, it means more aggressive treatment of heart attack risk factors should be done such as life style changes or medications. The doctor may recommend more invasive tests such as coronary Angiography based on scan results. Sometimes the result of the test may not be helpful if the patient has a fast heart rate or smokes.
Heart scans such as multi slice computerized tomography and helical CT are used to see calcium in arteries. Such type of scans expose the patient to radiation. There is a slight chance of developing cancer from having coronary calcium scan. The chance is higher in those who have had many radiation. It is imperative to consult with the doctor about the amount of radiation required for this test and confirm that the test is needed. Sometimes an allergic reaction to the medication that is used during the procedure is exhibited.
The results of such scans should never be interpreted alone but should be used with information about other overall heart health and any risk factors the patient may have such as family history and high cholesterol. It is possible to have false positive results. This means that the test shows a high chance of plaque in the arteries when it is not true. Those with low chance of heart disease are most likely to have a false-positive test.