What you need to know about cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is a group of medical conditions related to the heart or blood vessels. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels) are two familiar types of cardiovascular disease. Some people, including healthcare providers, refer to cardiovascular disease as “heart disease,” although it can affect more than your heart.

Cardiovascular disease can lead to more serious conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke. These “cardiovascular events” can result in permanent disability or even death.

Cardiovascular disease currently affects 1 in 3 adult Americans—over 80 million people—and it is estimated that heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases accounts for 1 in every 6 U.S. health dollars spent.1,2

Cholesterol’s Role in Cardiovascular Disease

Lipid Panel Testing Does Not Provide the Whole Story

Cholesterol’s Role in Cardiovascular Disease

Traditionally, the risk of cardiovascular disease has been determined by simple blood tests and the presence of various risk factors. One of the common ways healthcare providers screen for cardiovascular disease is with a blood test called a lipid panel. This panel is typically a combination of tests used to measure the amounts of fatty substances (lipids) in the blood and can include: total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C); high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C); and triglycerides (TG).

LDL-C and HDL-C are two important types of cholesterol:

    • LDL-C, the “bad cholesterol,” can build up in the walls of blood vessels supplying your heart and slow or block the flow of blood to your heart, increasing your risk of developing heart disease and possibly a heart attack.
    • HDL-C, the “good cholesterol,” helps remove LDL-C from your blood vessels. It carries the “bad cholesterol” to the liver, where it passes out of the body.

Typical treatments include drug therapy and lifestyle changes aimed at lowering your LDL-C and raising your HDL-C.

Traditional Lipid Testing Does Not Tell the Whole Story

Information from traditional cholesterol screening tests provides basic screening information, but research indicates that lipid panel testing alone does not predict your risk of a cardiovascular disease event:

    • Clinical trials have shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk for a cardiovascular event by only 25% on average, meaning that standard drug therapy fails to address 75% of a patient’s remaining or residual risk for cardiovascular events.
    • Additionally, hospital admission data indicates that at least half the people who’ve had a heart attack had “normal” LDL cholesterol levels.

Boston Heart’s Advanced Testing Uncovers Your Risk

Our scientists and researchers have dedicated their careers to discovering techniques to provide a more in-depth and accurate assessment of the makeup of cholesterol in order to determine cardiovascular event risk.

Boston Heart combines advanced laboratory testing and analysis with individualized treatment recommendations to uncover and manage your individual risk.

The “silent killer.” 50% of patients who die suddenly from a heart attack had normal LDL cholesterol level.3

1. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al; for The American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2011 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:e18–e209.
2. High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. Vital Signs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. http://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/CardiovascularDisease/index.html. Accessed March 30, 2012.
3. Sachdeva A, Cannon CP, Deedwania PC, et al; for the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Hospitals. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: an analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines. Am Heart J. 2009;157(1):111–117.e2.

Assessing Your Risk

  • Did you know?
    • 50% of people, who’ve had a heart attack, have normal LDL cholesterol.3
  • Knowledge is Power
  • The two important types of cholesterol are LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, simply referred to as LDL and HDL:
    • LDL is called “bad cholesterol”. It can build up on the walls of your arteries and slow or block the flow of blood to your heart, increasing your risk of heart disease.
    • HDL is called “good cholesterol” because it helps remove the “bad cholesterol” from your arteries. It carries the bad cholesterol to the liver, where it passes out of the body.
  • Test Guide
    • View our Test Guide and learn more about the tests that are available from Boston Heart.