This is an update of a post I made about a year ago. However, I'm reposting it since the question comes up so often.
How can I get my lipoproteins tested?
This question came up on our recent online chat session and comes up frequently phone calls and e-mails.
If lipoprotein testing is the best way to uncover hidden causes of coronary heart disease, but your doctor is unable, unknowledgeable, or unwilling to help you, then what can you do?
There are several options:
1) Get the names of physicians who will obtain and interpret the test for you. That’s the best way. However, it is also the most difficult. Lipoprotein testing, despite over a decade of considerable scientific exploration and validation in thousands of research publications, still remains a sophisticated tool that only specialists in lipids will use. But this provides you with the best information on you’re your lipoproteins mean.
2) If you don’t have a doctor who can provide lipoprotein testing and interpretation, go to the websites for the three labs that actually perform the lipoprotein tests: www.liposcience.com (NMR); www.berkeleyheartlab.com (electropheresis or GGE); www.atherotech.com (ultracentrifugation). None of them will provide you with the names of actual physicians. They can provide you with the name of a local representative who will know (should know) which doctors in your area are well-acquainted with their technology. I prefer this route to just having a representative identify a laboratory in your area where the blood sample can be drawn, because you will still need a physician to interpret the results¾this is crucial. The test is of no use to you unless someone interprets it intelligently and understands the range of treatment possibilities available. Don’t be persuaded by your doctor if he/she agrees to have the blood drawn but has never seen the test before. This will be a waste of your time. That’s like hoping the kid next door can fix your car just because he says he fixed his Mom’s car once. Interpretation of lipoproteins takes time, education, and experience.
3) Seek out a lipidologist. Lipidologists are the new breed of physician who has sought out additional training and certification in lipid and lipoprotein disorders. Sometimes they’re listed in the yellow pages, or you can search online in your area. One drawback: Most lipidologists have been heavily brainwashed by the statin industry and tend to be heavy drug users.
4) Contact us. I frankly don’t like doing this because I feel that I can only provide limited information through this method and, frankly, it is very time consuming. I provide a written discussion of the implications and choices for treatment with the caveat to discuss them with your doctor, since I can’t provide medical advice without a formal medical relationship. We also charge $75 for the interpretation. But it’s better than nothing.
5) Make do with basic testing. Basic lipids along with a lipoprotein(a), C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and homocysteine would provide a reasonable facsimile of lipoprotein testing. You’ll still lack small LDL and postprandial (after-eating) information, but you can still do reasonably well if you try to achieve the Track Your Plaque targets of 60-60-60. It’s sometimes a necessary compromise.
Our discussions on the Track Your Plaque Forum have impressed me with the difficulty many people encounter in getting lipoproteins drawn and interpreted. Some of our Members have been very resourceful identifying blood draw laboratories around the country, such as Lab Safe, that will at least provide the blood draw service.
I wish it was easier and we are working on some ideas to facilitate this nationwide. It will take time.
In 20 years, this will be a lot easier when doctors more commonly use lipoprotein testing. But for now, you can still obtain reasonably good results choosing one of the above alternatives.