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Coronary Artery Disease

Instructions

A blood test for coronary artery disease may or may not require fasting, based on the specific blood test and the lab that is collecting the blood sample.  The lipoprotein (a) blood test, for example, is used to assess risk of coronary artery disease and does not require the patient to fast before giving blood for the test.  However, the total lipid profile blood test panel that assesses risk of coronary artery disease and other heart related health problems does require the patient to fast for 10 to 12 hours.  The individual should take into consideration all of the blood tests that they are taking and if they require fasting. 

Why It Is Used

A blood test for coronary artery disease is used to assess one’s risk of the disease.  The test may be ordered if a patient has a family or personal history of heart disease.  The test may also be ordered if a patient has other risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

How It Works

The coronary arteries are the primary blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart.  Coronary artery disease normally develops due to a build-up of plaque, caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol - in the coronary arteries.  When this plaque builds up, it narrows the coronary arteries and obstructs proper blood flow to the heart.  If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, the blockage can cause a heart attack.  The lipoprotein test is a blood test for coronary artery disease that estimates levels of LDL cholesterols that may have attached to a coronary artery - by simply assessing the level of lipoprotein (a) in the blood.  Lipoprotein (a) is released into the blood when LDL cholesterol attaches to certain proteins in the body.  

Results

High levels of lipoprotein (a) found in the blood indicate that there are also high levels of LDL cholesterol that have attached to proteins.  These proteins may or may not be in the coronary arteries – the test cannot provide information on the location of the LDL cholesterol.  If a high level of lipoprotein is found in the blood, more tests need to be done to further assess risk of heart disease. 

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