What Are the New Cholesterol Tests?

4 answers | Last updated: Feb 06, 2018
A fellow caregiver asked...

What new cholesterol tests are available, and how are they better than a standard blood test?

Expert Answers

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

In the past few years, new cholesterol tests have become available that are more sensitive and individualized. They go by a number of names; the most common is lipoprotein subfraction testing. Right now, doctors usually order these tests for people who have a strong family history of heart disease. But they provide much better information than standard blood test for LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol. We'd like to see all our patients have them.

Subfraction tests are much more sensitive than the standard blood cholesterol test. They measure as many as 20 different factors, instead of just four. Most importantly, these tests measure the size and pattern of cholesterol particles. In recent years, experts have learned that the number and size of cholesterol particles makes an enormous difference in assessing heart attack risk.

Finding out particle size can indicate how easy it will be to affect cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes, or whether you also need medication. Bigger cholesterol particles are better; they don't cause as many problems.

If you have small molecules of cholesterol, it's harder for the body to eliminate them. People with small-molecule cholesterol are three to four times as likely to have a heart attack. So, knowing you have small molecules of cholesterol, known as "pattern B," doctors would probably choose to be more aggressive with statin treatment.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

How much more expensive is lipoprotein subfraction testing than regular blood testing? Is this test covered by Medicare?

A fellow caregiver answered...

i would also like to know how much more does this lipoprotein subfraction cost...and is it covered by medicare and secondary insurance?

Kilani answered...

Usually a typical routine blood tests includes the complete blood count, it is also called CBC, to measure your red and white blood cells numbers as well as hemoglobin and other numbers.

There are multiple forms of cholesterol circulating in the blood. The various forms of cholesterol and other fats in the blood are together called lipids.

Tests for cholesterol provide results for four different types of lipids.