When heart matters more than matters of the heart!
29th September is celebrated as World Heart Day, a day when healthcare professionals the world over draw attention to the most important organ of the body. Dr Preet Kaur, Business Unit Head – Biochemistry, Transasia Bio-Medicals writes about the relevance of understanding diagnosis and catching the early markers of heart ailments
It’s 29th September, and you wake up to your daily newspaper endorsing the ‘healthiest’ heart oil brand; your office conducts activities that ensure that you have a ‘healthy heart’; you are inundated with promo SMS’s offering you an attractive discount on health check-up packages; or your neighbourhood gym hounds you to sign-up for a membership.
While every other person can give you information overload on the do’s and dont’s for a healthy heart, as India’s leading IVD Company, we thought it would be a good idea to let you know what we are best at: giving you solutions for the early diagnosis to prevent heart disease.
It’s all in the blood!
Without underplaying the importance of a healthy lifestyle, we would like to bring to the forefront the importance of conducting regular health checks which includes radiological and pathological tests. It is no secret that as the most vital body fluid, blood is a powerhouse of information to know one’s state of physical wellbeing. Let’s get acquainted with some of the most important cardiac indicators:
Diagnostic markers and why they are important:
Needs no introduction! When you can’t blame it on anything else blame it on this steroid, essential to make hormones for development, growth, reproduction and the bile acids to absorb nutrients from food. A small amount of cholesterol circulates in the blood in complex particles called lipoproteins, classified into high, low and very low density lipoproteins (HDL, LDL and VLDL respectively) depending on their density. HDL (also referred to as good cholesterol carries cholesterol away for disposal) while LDL (also referred to as bad cholesterol deposits it in the tissues). So obviously high levels of HDL and low levels of LDL are desired. Cholesterol is an important parameter used for screening the risk of developing a heart disease or to monitor the effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy. Your doctor would advise you to undergo a total cholesterol test to get a better insight into the HDL and LDL levels, as a part of the lipid profile.
A form of fat, Triglycerides are a major source of energy. Most triglycerides are found in the fat (adipose tissue). After a person eats, a large amount of triglycerides are found in the blood as the body converts energy into fat, to be utilized later and in between meals, they are released back into the blood to be used as an energy source. High levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of developing CVD, though the reason for it is unclear.
Patients who are brought in an emergency with a chest discomfort, are initially assessed for myocardial infarction (heart attack) through an ECG and blood test. Specific proteins such as CK-MB (Creatine Kinase-MB) are normally present within the heart cells and released into blood post a heart attack, thereby indicating damage. However, CK-MB is not specific to the heart and is also found in other muscles, although in small amounts. Hence CK-MB is often advised as a follow-up to a CK test, which is more specific to muscle damage. Chest pain and increased CK levels with elevated CK-MB is an indication of a heart attack, or a subsequent heart attack.
Apolipoprotein A1 and Apolipoprotein B
Lipids alone cannot dissolve in blood. Apolipoproteins are the proteins that combine with lipids to make lipoproteins. Apolipoprotein A1 is the main protein component in HDL and is tested if you have low levels of HDL. Likewise, Apolipoprotein B1 is the main component in LDL and indicates LDL levels. An increased ratio of Apo B to Apo A-I may indicate a higher risk of developing CVD.
Lipoprotein(a) is a type of lipoprotein that carries LDL. Levels of Lp(a) are measured to evaluate the risk of developing a CVD. It is considered a risk factor just like LDL but doesn’t respond to the treatment process like LDL does. This is because the amount of Lp(a) is determined by the inherited genes and remains constant.
Hs-CRP is one of the growing number of cardiac risk markers. CRP (C-reactive protein) increases in the blood with inflammation and infection as well following a heart attack. A high sensitivity CRP test accurately detects low levels of CRP to identify low but persistent inflammation levels and thus helps predict a person’s risk of developing CVD in healthy people. Normal but slightly high levels of CRP in otherwise healthy individuals can predict the future risk of a heart attack even when cholesterol levels are within an acceptable range.