The Nation's Health + [health]

Cholesterol: Why average cholesterol values can be so bad

Jack had been told again and again that there was absolutely nothing wrong with his cholesterol panel. His numbers:

Total cholesterol 198 mg/dl

LDL cholesterol 119 mg/dl --actually below the national average (131 mg/dl).

HDL 48 mg/dl --actually above the average HDL for a male (42 mg/dl).

Triglycerides 153 ng/dl --right at the average.

So his primary care physician was totally stumped when Jack's heart scan revealed a score of 410 .

Lipoprotein analysis (NMR) told an entirely different story:

LDL particle number 1880 nmol/l (take off the last digit to generate an approximate real LDL, i.e., 188 mg/dl).

Small LDL 95% of all LDL particles , a very severe pattern.

A severe excess of intermediate-density lipoprotein (218 nmol/l), suggesting that dietary fats are not cleared for 24 hours or so after a meal.

And those were just the major points. In other words, where conventional cholesterol values, or lipids, failed miserably, lipoprotein analysis can shine. The causes for Jack's high heart scan score become immediately apparent, even obvious . Jack's abnormalities are relatively easy to correct--but you have to know if they're present before they can be corrected. A shotgun statin drug approach could only hope to correct a portion of this pattern, but would unquestionably fail to fully correct the pattern.

As I've said before, standard cholesterol testing is a fool's game. You can squeeze a little bit of information out of them, but there's so much more information that can be easily obtained through lipoprotein testing like Jack had.