About Cardiovascular Risk Factors


Cholesterol is a sterol that is essential for the proper functioning of the body. It is a component of cell membranes and is necessary for the production of steroid hormones. Lipid disorders are significant risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease, and recent evidence suggests that the cholesterol/HDL ratio is a more significant predictor of cardiovascular risk. We can test your total cholesterol with a simple finger stick to give us a basic idea of your level.

HDL cholesterol

HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) is a serum lipoprotein that contains ApoA1, cholesterol and triglycerides. A primary function of HDL is the removal of cholesterol from the body. Studies indicate that persons with high levels of HDL were less likely to develop atherosclerosis, thus significantly decreasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

LDL cholesterol

LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) is a serum lipoprotein that contains ApoB, cholesterol and triglycerides. LDL is the most atherogenic of the lipoproteins. Recent evidence suggests that the oxidized form of LDL may play a key role in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, and like lipoprotein(a), oxidized LDL forms foam cells which are associated with the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.


Triglycerides are a family of complex lipids and make up 95% of all tissue-stored fat within the body. Recent studies have shown that persons with high triglycerides and low HDL are at significant risk for developing cardiovascular disease.


Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid and when it becomes elevated, it can damage coronary arteries, cell structures, blood lipids and artery walls – eventually leading to the development of atherosclerosis and other forms of heart disease. Vitamins B6, B12 and folate, involved in homocysteine metabolism, act to regulate and reduce homocysteine.

The assessment of homocysteine status and B-vitamins, particularly B6, B12 and folate, is useful since heart disease is the leading cause of fatality in the U.S. In addition, current medical research reports that an elevated homocysteine status and/or deficiency of B6, B12 and/or folate increases the risk for heart disease. Approximately 2/3 of cases with elevations in homocysteine are related to deficiencies of one or more of these B-vitamins.

Apolipoprotein A-1 (ApoA1)

Apolipoprotein A-1 (ApoA1) is the major protein constituent of HDL (the “good” cholesterol). This molecule is responsible for the activation of two enzymes that are necessary for the formation of HDL, and this process may be a key factor in the relationship between HDL levels and the incidence of atherosclerosis.

Apolipoprotein B (ApoB)

Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) is the primary protein found in LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). Studies suggest that ApoB plays a major role in targeting the selective uptake of LDL by the liver, and has been identified as one component of the syndrome known as atherogenic lipoprotein phenotype which is a common disorder in persons at risk for atherosclerosis.

C-Reactive Protein

C-Reactive Protein is a non-specific indicator of systemic inflammation and infection. Its level rises rapidly in response to tissue injury and inflammation, and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.


Fibrinogen is an important coagulation protein that is involved in the mesh-like network of the common blood clot. Studies have shown that elevated fibrinogen status is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease.


Lipoprotein(a) is a complex of ApoA and LDL, and an elevated status is associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. The pathogenic role of lipoprotein(a) is similar to that of LDL in the development of atherosclerosis; it is localized in the blood vessel walls, then oxidized. Once oxidized, it forms the foam cells associated with atherosclerotic plaques.

At Desert Naturopathic Health, we can perform these important tests to determine a very accurate cardiovascular assessment, and in turn, a very comprehensive treatment plan. Please call us if you have questions at 602-888-1201.