Statins are medications that are prescribed to lower high levels of cholesterol. This is done by inhibiting enzyme HMG-CoA reductase; critical to cholesterol production in the liver. While cholesterol comes from diet, it is also manufactured internally in the liver. Since elevated cholesterol is indicated in cardiovascular disease, statins are prescribed for controlling cholesterol levels. In addition to inhibiting cholesterol synthesis, statins play a role in improving endothelial function, maintaining plaque stability and preventing the formation of thrombus.
The typical side-effect of statin is muscle pain, soreness and weakness. Some amount of liver damage might be noticed since it increases the production of certain enzymes. Some might notice nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Many individuals with heart diseases or high cholesterol are looking to switch to natural alternatives to statins or natural statins as they are widely known, to protect themselves from the potential side effects of statins. Foods containing natural statins are fermented soy products, flax seed, fish oil, fibrous grains like oats and barley, fibrous vegetables like beans and carrots, fibrous fruits like apples, avocados and berries.
Cholesterol is the fatty substance found in the body. Cholesterol facilitates some of the vital functions in the body such as hormone formation, cell structure and also digestion. However, the estimation of cholesterol ratio in an individual determines a person’s risk of heart disease. Cholesterol ratio is often measured by taking the good cholesterol – high density lipoprotein ratio and bad cholesterol low density lipoprotein ratio. In order to calculate the total cholesterol level, the value of good cholesterol is divided by the total cholesterol. For treatment purposes, it is important that the values pertaining to good cholesterol(HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) are measured.
Our body transports fats(lipids) and water based blood within a single circulatory system. It uses a combination of fats with protein to form water soluble packages called as lipoproteins so that essential fatty nutrients can be transported in the blood and also that fatty waste products can be carried away from body tissues. Lipoproteins are a complex mixture of triglycerides, cholesterol, phospholipids and special proteins. There are five different sizes of these chemical packages with each holding four distinct chemicals in it. Ultracentrifuge will split blood serum into different layers based on density in a test. They are:
Good cholesterol / High density lipoproteins
High density lipoproteins play a very significant role in the cleaning up excess cholesterol present in the blood vessels to prevent plaque formation thus acting as effective scavengers. The excess cholesterol is transported to the liver for breakdown and excretion. The levels of HDL in the blood determine the intensity of cleaning process of the blood vessels to prevent atherosclerosis leading to coronary artery disease. The level of cholesterol is measured by milligrams per deciliter of the blood. The normal range for HDL in men and women is 60mg/dl or above. Any value below these levels indicates that the individual is susceptible heart disease. Hence the concentration of HDL is inversely related to cardiovascular disease. HDL also pays an important role in lipoprotein metabolism in donating proteins such as Apo c2, Apo E and VLDL.
Increasing good cholesterol in the body
HDL concentrations increase in the body depends on the lifestyle of an individual. Avoiding smoking can effectively raise the levels of HDL in the body. This accounts for 10 percent rise in the HDL level. Obesity is a major cause for cardiovascular disease and many other associated diseases. Losing excess weight in the body can yield in a gradual increase of HDL levels. Exercises pertaining to cardiac activity such as running, brisk walking, swimming, aerobics can enhance the levels of HDL significantly. Alcohol consumption should be limited to moderate. Choosing the right kind of fats in the diet enables increase in good cholesterol levels. Avoiding foods containing saturated and trans fats is advisable. These fats tend to increase the low density lipoproteins which damage the blood vessels. Fats which contain polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated fatty acids are safe and they increase the level of HDL in the body. Foods containing these fatty acids include olives, peanuts, canola, fish etc. These fatty acids improve the anti-inflammatory action of the HDL.
In addition to changes in lifestyle, medications can also help improve the level of HDL in the body subsequently lowering the LDL levels. Therapeutics such as niacin in association with statins and cholestyramine increase the level of HDL. Statins block substances in the liver which makes cholesterol. They also reabsorb excess cholesterol in the artery walls. These drugs are often used in people who have a history of cardiovascular disease. In addition, fibrates such as fenofibrate and gemfibrozil enhance the HDL level.
C reactive Protein Test
C reactive protein is an acute phase reactant produced by the liver as an inflammatory response because of an infection. C reactive protein determination detects the presence of inflammation in the body. C-reactive protein values are very significant in determining the possibilities of long term diseases such as myocardial infarction, neoplastic proliferation and also some inflammatory diseases caused due to infection. C-reactive protein is also considered as the scavenger protein. It binds to many microorganisms in facilitating the process of cell mediated cytotoxicity and also phagocytosis.
C reactive protein test is advised to patients who undergo surgeries pertaining to both general and transplantation categories. It enables in determining the underlying causes of graft rejection. The general CRP determination is of less significance as the values obtained may not describe the underlying health conditions in a specific way. This diagnostic obligation pertaining to the exact values of CRP is eliminated with the introduction of highly sensitive C-reactive protein test (HsCRP).
Principle of the Hs-CRP test
Highly sensitive CRP test is ordered especially in the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. Hs-CRP test is done using the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The procedure involves the use of a unique monoclonal antibody which is targeted against a distinct antigenic determinant on the CRP. The CRP molecules in the test sample are sandwiched between the monoclonal antibody which forms the solid phase for immobilization in the test and the enzyme linked antibodies.
Physiology and clinical manifestations
The CRP levels in the body significantly increase after 24 to 48 hours as a response to indicate the onset of tissue damage. These values may remain constant for a longer duration before they reach the normal values. The American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control have determined the risk groups based on the CRP values. Patients with CRP value less than 1mg/L fall under the low risk groups and values ranging from 1 to 3 mg/L indicate the patients fall under average and high risk groups for cardio vascular disease.
The values of high sensitivity C reactive protein test are part of cardiovascular disease diagnosis. These values are further correlated with other important parameters such as cholesterol levels and glucose levels. Careful analysis is required to understand the history of the patient before the test. This analysis includes a previous history of smoking, infectious disease, alcoholism etc. The hsCRP level values vary if the patient has previously taken non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs. High sensitivity CRP ratios have exceptions in clinical conditions such as arthritis because of the high inflammatory response seen in these conditions. The values are not taken into consideration under these conditions. Coronary artery disease related conditions are predicted in healthy individuals through the hsCRP test.
This Hs CRP test serves as an effective marker in identifying the risk for coronary artery related stroke or heart attack in a healthy individual. The hs-CRP test is also used in the detection of colon cancer and complications related to diabetes and obesity. The hs-CRP test is increasingly becoming an effective test in the pharmacological management of patients by the clinicians as it gives details for the precise use of statins and anti thrombotic medications. Research pertaining to the comparative ratio drawn between patients having high CRP values and low LDL (low density lipoproteins) values prove that these patients are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. These studies conclude that the hs-CRP test is a significant marker in prediction of asymptomatic cardiovascular disease among healthy individuals. The hs-CRP test is also effective in the determination of HNF1A mutations which act as the precursor for the maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY). This helps in the screening of unidentified diabetes.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: February 17, 2019