Women's Heart Risk: Cholesterol Test Best?
Research Shows the Value of Checking Cholesterol Levels
July 19, 2005 -- A cholesterol test may be a middle-aged woman's best sign of future heart risks.
blood tests can also be done.
Which test is best? Paul Ridker, MD, and colleagues studied more than 15,600 middle-aged women for 10 years.
The result: No test was better at predicting future heart disease-related complications such as heart attacks and strokes than cholesterol levels. Heart disease is a leading killer of U.S. men and women.
Specifically, cholesterol particles called "non-HDL" were found to be important in predicting future heart disease-related events. Non-HDL cholesterol are certain fats in blood () that carry small identifying proteins that seem to be more prone to plaque formation.
The researchers also show that in these women the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL "good" cholesterol was important.
Measuring blood levels of the added more information, write the researchers in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Testing the Blood Tests
The women gave blood samples when the study started. Back then, they were 48-59 years old.
Over the next 10 years, 464 of the women had their first confirmed heart disease-related complication.
The complications included 131 heart attacks, 122 strokes, 76 heart disease-related deaths, and 274 procedures to unblock clogged heart vessels.
Many of the affected women had at least two such heart problems. To avoid double counting, only the first heart "event" in each woman was analyzed.
Inflammatory Marker Also Notable
CRP testing added more information than that provided by the cholesterol tests alone, write the researchers.
They saw that result after considering the women's age, blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and obesity.
Consult your doctor to learn how to protect or upgrade your heart's health. Get help immediately at any sign of a heart attack or stroke.