Lipid Testing and Health Promotion Guidelines

Introduction

In the modern preventive health care context, many people are familiar with the notion of cholesterol and its effect on the human body. However, over the past years, the connotation of cholesterol and fats has become quite negative, with people having a lack of understanding of how fats work in one’s body. Moreover, patients are unaware of the testing required to control their cholesterol testing. Nurses, for their part, although familiar with the idea of lipid panels and cholesterol testing, sometimes fail to recognize the need for early intervention, prevention, and decoding of blood tests. Thus, the primary goal of the presentation is to look into the specifics of lipid testing, its primary components, values, and health promotion guidelines.

What is a lipid panel?

Thus, the notion of a lipid panel, or profile, stands for the process of running blood tests on the number of fats and cholesterol in one’s blood. This test primarily exists to assess the ratio of beneficial and harmful fats in one’s body. While the “good” cholesterol types help people digest food and release hormones and vitamins, the “bad” ones tend to cause tremendous harm to human health. Thus, lipid profiling aims at defining the extent to which prevalence of these types harms or benefits the organism, arteries, and heart condition.

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Types of lipids

The process of lipid profiling focuses on the assessment and count of the four major components, including total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides. Total cholesterol serves as a “good-to-bad” ratio of cholesterol in the human body, demonstrating a positive or negative tendency of artery plaquing. Triglycerides, for their part, concern the fats consumed and digested by the human body. The significance of a lipid panel is the ability to present an integrated approach to the assessment of potential risk factors related to cardiac health, as, according to Orozco-Beltran et al. (2017), accounting for all four components is key to the proper assessment of cardiac health, and hospitalization and mortality rates. Each of the components should be discussed in detail.

Cholesterol

A fat-like substance found in the human body, also known as cholesterol, plays a critical role in the patterns of one’s digestion and hormonal function. There is a common misconception that cholesterol enters the human body solely with the help of food intake, especially one rich in cholesterol, including egg yolks and meat. While a considerable amount of cholesterol is indeed taken through dietary habits, the cholesterol required for body functioning is released by the body itself. As a result, there emerges a distortion between the beneficial and harmful aspects of cholesterol in one’s body.

HDL Cholesterol

The first type of cholesterol, known as “the good one,” is called high-density cholesterol or HDL. This cholesterol type is a beneficial substance that moves cholesterol from the whole body to the liver securing its timely release from the body. Such a substance transition within one’s organism serves as a preventive measure for various cardiac and arterial issues, as it secures proper blood flow and prevents blood clots that catalyze heart attacks and strokes. For this reason, it is vital for a patient to have satisfactory HDL values starting from no less than 50 milligrams per decilitre.

On the other hand, there are instances of a hazardous cholesterol substance, also known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. Constituting the majority of the body’s cholesterol, LDL accesses the body through cholesterol-reach food such as meat or dairy products and cannot be released as easily as HDL produced by the liver. Instead, LDL tends to store in the arteries, narrowing them and disrupting the blood flow in the body. Moreover, LDL increases the chances of creating blood clots that, in their turn, elevate the risk of severe cardiac conditions. Hence, unlike HDL, LDL levels should be as low as possible, not exceeding the amount of 100 milligrams per deciliter.

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Triglycerides

While people are preoccupied with the amount of food they consume in order to stay in shape, a few are familiar with the notion of triglycerides, or the most common lipid substances in the human body. Generally, triglycerides stand for the extra calories that people consume. These calories are stored in fat cells, and they are used when people require extra energy. If there is no energy to burn the stored calories, there emerges an increased pressure on the blood supply, and the human body struggles with maintaining healthy blood pressure and preventing the cardiac system from disruptions. Hence, it is necessary to have a regular lipid panel to make sure the triglycerides levels do not exceed 150 milligrams per deciliter.

Why is lipid panel ordered?

Lipid panel testing is of utmost importance for every person due to the fact that, in most cases, increased LDL levels are asymptomatic, and the issue deteriorates gradually, resulting in cardiac arrests and chronic heart conditions. For this reason, a lipid panel provides patients and practitioners with relevant information about the potential health risks. Considering the extensive number of possible complications that stem from high LDL and triglycerides levels, lipid panels are beneficial for both the patients and health economics. The recommended regularity of lipid profiling is no rarer than once every five years for a healthy individual. In case of increased risks for poor cholesterol levels, the tests are ordered more frequently. The results usually take from one to three days to be received.

What do results infer?

When decoding the results of a lipid panel, it is necessary to differentiate between the value tendencies of LDL and HDL. The low levels of LDL and high levels of 11/11/21HDL both infer a satisfactory amount of cholesterol, whereas a decrease in HDL and increase in LDL alarms a potential hazard for one’s health. Generally, the test results aim at demonstrating the extent to which a person is prone to have cardiac issues in the near future. Poor lipid panel outcomes infer the disruption in current nutrition and exercise patterns, presenting the need for immediate health intervention. The test value range can be seen on the slide.

Elevated values

When speaking of elevated values for a lipid panel, there exists a distinct differentiation between LDL and HDL. Elevated LDL rates serve as an indicator for a wide variety of serious health conditions that include but are not limited to heart disease, aneurysm, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiac arrests. Elevated HDL levels, on the contrary, account for a low risk of cardiac diseases. Elevated triglycerides, for their part, also serve as hazardous for one’s health.

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Low values

The presence of low LDL values, along with low triglycerides levels, is a positive sign that shows a decreased risk for various health complications. Low HDL values, on the other hand, manifest potential challenges. High-density cholesterol deficiency is likely to result in a slower metabolism and the inability to digest food properly. Consequently, the human body is unable to release fatty substances taken with food without extra energy, and the issues related to high LDL values become relevant for the ones unable to produce the body’s cholesterol. For this reason, it is of paramount importance to look into the test results and seek the reasons for poor cholesterol patterns in the daily habits and nutrition preferences of a patient.

When to address a specialist?

In the majority of cases, any abnormality in terms of lipid panel results should be considered and addressed by a primary care physician, whose task is to assess the existing exercise and nutrition patterns, along with risks related to the socio-ethnic background. After the assessment, a physician should either develop a treatment and prophylaxis plan with the patient or refer them to a secondary care specialist. Examples of such specialists include a nutritionist or a cardiologist. Their task is to address already existing health issues catalyzed by abnormal test results.

In cases when no conventional interventions work for a patient, there is a risk of an inherent lipid issue, also known as dyslipidemia. Then, it is mandatory to refer to a lipid specialist who works in the field of lipid and cholesterol disorders. Lipidologist is qualified to prescribe medications that may resolve the problem that cannot be addressed through diet or physical exercise alone. Hence, there is an extensive number of specialists to refer to once an issue arises, as poor lipid profiling outcomes may eventually become fatal for a patient.

Patient education

However, prior to dealing with the situation directly, it is necessary to allocate enough resources to the process of preventing abnormal cholesterol values. Since the major risk groups in terms of high LDL include older people, people from ethnic minorities, people with poor dietary habits and inactive lifestyles, it is the nurses’ and physicians’ responsibility to inform patients at risk about the possible complications of their lifestyle or genetic peculiarities. The best way to do so is to find a personalized approach to every patient and engage community health nurses in conducting community educational interventions.

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As far as education is concerned, the major points to cover in the agenda should include a healthy diet, weight management, physical activity tracking, and regular medical check-ups. In such a way, adherence to a Mediterranean diet, along with regular exercise, will serve as a preventive measure not only for cholesterol issues but for a series of other adverse health problems.

Conclusion

Lipid testing is undeniably one of the most important medical laboratory interventions. Once addressed and conducted regularly, a lipid panel helps prevent a variety of severe health conditions, inclosing heart attacks, coronary artery disease, aneurysms, and strokes. In order to make use of lipid testing, it is of utmost importance to differentiate between the components under the analysis and account for personalized peculiarities of cholesterol patterns among patients.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2021). Cholesterol. Web.

Orozco-Beltran, D., Gil-Guillen, V. F., Redon, J., Martin-Moreno, J. M., Pallares-Carratala, V., Navarro-Perez, J., Valls-Roca, F., Sanchis-Domenech, C., Fernandez-Gimenez, A., Perez-Navarro, A., Bertomeu-Martinez, V., Bertomeu-Gonzalez, V., Cordero, A., Pascual de la Torre, M., Trillo, J. L., Carratala-Munuera, C., Pita-Fernandez, S., Uso, R., Durazo-Arvizu, R., … & ESCARVAL Study Group. (2017). Lipid profile, cardiovascular disease and mortality in a Mediterranean high-risk population: The ESCARVAL-RISK study. PLoS One, 12(10). Web.

Roberts, H. (2020). What healthy cholesterol levels should look like, based on age and gender. Insider. Web.

Smith, Y. (2021). Triglycerides – What do they do? News Medical. Web.

University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.). Lipid panel. Web.

US National Library of Medicine (2020). Cholesterol testing and results. Web.

US National Library of Medicine (2021a) Cholesterol. Web.

US National Library of Medicine (2021b). Triglycerides. Web.

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