If you go to your doctor for an annual check-up it is more than likely that a blood sample will be drawn so that your Total Cholesterol, HDL, and Triglyceride levels can be checked. From these results, your LDL level will be calculated. This won't tell you much about your health though. As we already discussed, your lipid panel can give some insight, but additional testing will be needed to truly determine if you are at risk.
Here are a handful of tests that will tell you if your current lifestyle is healthy:
- A1C - average blood sugar over a 2-3 month period, much more telling of insulin issues than a single glucose reading
- C-Reactive Protein - marker of inflammation and inflammation is a definite sign of trouble ahead
- Cortisol - measures stress / adrenal fatigue
- Lipoproteins - directly measure LDL and include particle size A & B testing
- Testosterone (free or bio-available) - low testosterone may be an indicator of increased coronary risk
- Thyroid Panel (TSH, free T3, free T4) - hypothyroidism is common and may increase TC, LDL, and triglycerides
- Vitamin D - normal blood levels protect against heart disease and cancer
- Vitamin Deficiency - ensure that your diet is meeting all of your needs
Be prepared for a fight if you request additional blood tests. Most doctors will question why you want these additional tests performed on your blood and may even refuse to do so. They like to argue that they only test when symptoms are present. I would recommend finding a new doctor as your health counts on it. It is an absolute shame that the majority of general practitioners don't take preventative medicine seriously. Having the above tests done on a regular basis (annually?) could give you a heads up long before anything becomes a life threatening problem, potentially saving the insurance companies millions of dollars down the road.