It’s common knowledge that blood cholesterol can contribute to development of heart disease. However,  in recent years the validity of a single blood cholesterol value to determine heart disease risk – total cholesterol – has come under the spotlight.

Before acting on this single biomarker to start a treatment regime (i.e. medication or dietary changes) it should be noted that the total amount of cholesterol in the blood is not the only factor that should be used to determine an individual’s risk for heart disease. A complete blood cholesterol test or lipogram may give a better indication of the total risk or chance of an individual developing heart disease in addition to determining certain genetic markers associated with increased risk for heart disease. Lipoprotein a and b are two examples that may be investigated via a blood tests. In addition, it may also be of value to perform further cholesterol particle size.

Other risk factors that has to be investigated include a family history of elevated cholesterol, early onset heart disease or death of a family member due to heart disease or abnormal lipo protein, homocystein and even c-reactive protein levels. Overweight, in particular central (apple shape) obesity is also regarded a risk for development of heart disease.