Local News

New Test Provides Better Detection Of Onset Of Heart Problems

Posted July 19, 2001 4:33 a.m. EDT

— Many people with so called "normal" cholesterol levels can go on to develop heart disease, which can be very frustrating for doctors and patients. A few years ago, Lipomed, a company in Raleigh, developed a test to more accurately detect your risk of heart problems.

Steve Corman never has trouble finding things to do. He may be retired, but he still spends hours each day working on business proposals, which can create a reasonable amount of stress.

His family's history of heart disease had him worried about his own health.

"With the history in the family -- my mother, my father and some other relatives, I guess I've been very concerned about it," he says.

Two years ago his cardiologist, Dr. David Millward, decided to run a new test -- a Lipoprofile to predict Corman's risk of having a heart attack. Dr. David Millward was frustrated because many of his patients had normal cholesterol levels but still had heart disease.

The LipoProfile test screens for cholesterol, but more importantly, it looks at the size of the particles that make up the cholesterol.

Small particles build up inside the artery and cause inflammation, reduce blood flow and increase your risk of heart disease. The more LDL or bad cholesterol you have, the more likely you are to have a heart attack.

Since it is the size that matters, even high levels of HDL or good cholesterol, can be dangerous if it is made up of mostly small particles.

After each test, Corman sees how his medications, diet and exercise affect his numbers. In two years, he has watched his risk of having a heart attack plummet, which inspires him to work even harder.

"When you get numbers like I had on my result, it just makes you want to do a little bit more to get them down a bit more," he says.

The Lipoprofile requires a simple blood test and you usually get the results in about 24 hours. Instead of getting two numbers -- HDL and LDL, you will get a more detailed breakdown of your cholesterol levels.

With a healthy lifestyle and medication, many patients do see their numbers improve, which potentially adds years to their life.