Friday, February 5, 2010

Berkeley Heart Labs -- The Gold Standard

My sister just shared with me some information that she got from her Berkeley Heart Labs tests. This included an Apo E genotyping test to determine if one has a familial lipid dysfunction. She does, I do, we do. It is Type III hyperlipoproteinemia (also known as familial dysbetalipoproteinemia).

I knew that once. It may be connected to the "low-HDL, elevated overall cholesterol and elevated triglycerides" syndrome that I and my brother have (but not my sister -- she has great HDL). This sometimes triggers the "consider metabolic syndrome) on these tests. This site has more information on Apo E. (A sobering thought is that this very same test can also diagnose late onset Alzheimer's.)

The KIF6 genotype. This is a genetic marker that predicts heart issues. Here is Berkeley Heart Labs own web information on this. My sister has this gene; I don't know whether I do.

The "PLAC" test. This is a test to determine how much plaque you have likely built up. This is like the CRP test for inflamation. It is not a direct test. It is officially for Lp-PLA2. My sister got a good score here about about 100. My CRP was 0.17 last time -- little or no inflamation - a good sign.

NT-proBNP - A study of this factor reveals potential For NT-proBNP as a marker to predict cardiovascular risks from anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. My sister was "green" on this one. It is also used in exercise physiology.

LDL Patterns. My sister scored well here, too, with Pattern A -- the bouyant lipids. I'm probably still Pattern B, but hopefully moving up.

"Small LDL trait" - what is worse than having elevated LDL? Having small, elevated LDL. This can be tested by the ApoB test. Check the Ladies Home Journal article on this. There is some evidence that heart incidents are more closely correlated with high, small LDL levels than with any other lipid group. (It used to be overall cholesterol. Now LDL is a better indicator, and small LDL a better indicator still.)

The VAP tests very likely offer similar or comparable tests to the ones above, but I must say that the Apo B, the Apo E, the KIF6, the PLAC test, and the NT-proBNP were new to me. My (or, "our") familial predispostion was already diagnosed in my case, but the other genetic indicators -- rather, their use as predictors -- is new to me. Maybe I'll press for a Berkeley Hearts Labs test at some point in the future rather than the VAP test.

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