Your Results and How They Impact Your Health
Frequently we have our officers reach back out to us with questions about their lab numbers and how to interpret them. “I wish I could remember what they said about that thing that was bad on my lab data…” We hear it all the time. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a little cheat sheet of some commonly confused items and create something that you can reference should you find yourself in a situation with a colleague or spouse where you’re struggling to recall exactly what was said and how it impacted your health, directly.
PLA2- The Lower The Better
PLA2- Ok this is the big one. If this number is red we’ve got an issue. Basically, this value represents the general health of the endothelial layer of tissue designed to prevent plaque formation. Generally, we like to see this number in the 90’s (or lower), but once it is above 125mmol, more aggressive treatment and/or lifestyle change is required, especially if your calcium score is anything other than zero. A good rule of thumb is PLA2 is like a golf score… “the lower the better” Remember, PLA2 is very reactive, meaning it can change readily if you undergo a prolonged period of high stress or no sleep – both of these items are endemic within the occupation of law-enforcement. (TAKEAWAY: lower PLA2 has been linked to major reductions in risk of heart disease).
LDL/Triglyceride – Elevated By Inactivity and High Sugar Diet
LDL/Triglyceride – So these are the bad guys. You’ve heard of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? Well, these aren’t the ones you want to have out of range. They are somewhat associated with plaque production and general heart disease. While LDL and triglyceride (Trig) levels are sometimes elevated by inactivity and high sugar diet, genetics can also play a role here. If these levels are elevated, really try to limit sugar, frequent intake of red meat, and dairy products. If you do have high LDL/Trig levels, try increasing your intake of fiber as well as talking to your doctor about statin therapy especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
HDL –Healing Damaged Endothelial Lining, Lower PLA2
HDL – This is the good stuff. HDL is extremely cardio-protective, can help heal damaged endothelial lining (that can lower PLA2), and is also involved in reproductive hormone synthesis. HDL is found in foods containing high amounts of mono- and poly-unsaturated fat like salmon, avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts, and nut butters. While these foods are high in calories, they have some very positive health benefits that all center around increases in HDL. If you’re not a big fish eater and not crazy about avocados, taking 2000mg of Omega-3 fatty acid (you can find this at any grocery pharmacy section) daily has, in some people, shown to have significant effects in bumping up HDL numbers.
APO B – Treat High APO B With Changes In Lifestyle
APO B – This one you may have never seen before. This is the total number of “atherogenic lipoproteins” in the blood. What constitutes an “atherogenic lipoprotein”? It’s basically the total count of low- to moderate density- lipoproteins (bad cholesterols) floating around in your blood. All these soft lipoproteins predispose you to heart disease, by potentially increasing PLA2, and can be the product of a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in sugar and saturated fat. Once your score exceeds the 90’s, more significant action is required on your part to mitigate your risk. In just about all cases, changes in lifestyle have shown to be incredibly effective at lowering APO B in to a more acceptable range.
HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1C) – Common Risk Factor, Your Weight
HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1C) – This is the classic marker for diabetes. This should be less than 6.0. If it’s higher, you may be more predisposed to type-II diabetes. What can cause HbA1c to increase? The NUMBER ONE most common risk factor… your weight. Fat cells secrete a hormone that can make you resistant to insulin. Therefore, reducing your body fat mass, via exercise and a healthly diet, is the number one way of reducing your risk of type-II diabetes. Because 38% of our population of officers are undiagnosed pre-diabetics, you have to take special precaution to avoid this condition. (NOTE: Type-II diabetes is very inflammatory and can predispose you to heart disease if it is poorly managed. Diagnosis is the key!)