Cholesterol follies 11. January 2008 William Davis (5) Rudy is a 59-year old man. He's had three heart catheterizations, two of which resulted in stent implantations. Obviously, Rudy should be the beneciary of a prevention program. His basic cholesterol values: Total cholesterol 164 mg/dl--pretty good, it seems. LDL cholesterol 111 mg/dl--Wow! Not too bad. HDL cholesterol 23 mg/dl--Uh oh, that's not too good. Triglycerides 148 mg/dl--By national (NCEP ATP-III) guidelines, triglycerides of 150 mg/dl and below fall within the desirable range. So we're left with an apparently isolated low HDL cholesterol, nothing more. On the surface, it doesn't seem all that bad. Of course, we need to keep in mind that this pattern landed Rudy in the hospital on several occasions and prompted several procedures. Should we rely on these results? How about Rudy's lipoproteins? Here they are (NMR; Liposcience):LDL particle number 2139 nmol/l--Representing an effective LDL of 213--over 100 mg higher than the standard value (above) suggests.Small LDL particles 2139 nmol/l--In other words, 100% of all Rudy's LDL particles are small. (Thus, weight-based measures of LDL cholesterol fail to tell us that he has too many small particles.)Large HDL 0 (zero) mg/dl--Rudy has virtually no functional HDL particles. If we had relied only on Rudy's standard cholesterol values, we would have focused on raising HDL. However, lipoprotein analysis uncovered a smorgasbord of additional severe patterns. The high LDL particle number comprised 100% of small particles is especially concerning. Truly, conventional cholesterol testing is a fool's game, one that time and again fails to fully uncover or predict risk for heart disease. One look at Rudy's lipoproteins and it becomes immediately obvious: This man is at high risk for heart disease and the causes are clear. Of course, many physicians and insurance companies argue that the added information provided by this portion of the lipoprotein test added around $70 more to the expense. When you see results like this, is there even a choice?