Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Should You Be Tested for PLAC?
Doctors and scientists are racing to find the perfect test to predict heart disease. We know that high LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are associated with heart disease risk. So is C-reactive protein, which is linked to inflammation in the blood vessels. All can be easily checked with a simple blood test. Unfortunately, none are perfect, and that’s why we keep looking for something better.
High levels of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase (Lp-PLA2) have been associated with a twofold risk of heart disease and stroke. Lp-PLA2 rises when cholesterol plaques become inflamed and unstable, making them more prone to rupture and block off an artery. It can be tested for with a blood test known as a PLAC test. Obesity, smoking, and a high fat diet are associated with higher levels, while exercise, moderate alcohol use, and a diet high in lean protein and nuts may help lower levels.
Not everyone needs a PLAC test. A recent advisory from an expert panel of lipid specialists, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology recommended that the test could be an option for people at intermediate risk. If elevated, those people could be moved into the high risk group, and their risk factors treated more aggressively.
To reduce inflammation, your best bet is a heart smart lifestyle. Keep your weight in a healthy range, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and choose a Mediterranean diet for optimal health.
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