A new LDL-C testing standard for cardiac risk assessment offering increased accuracy and convenience
The Martin-Hopkins Calculation for LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) gives doctors more accurate information with which to manage heart health, and fasting is not required. Quest Diagnostics is the first U.S. diagnostic laboratory to measure all LDL-C with this new assessment method.
What is LDL cholesterol?
LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. That’s because these “fat” proteins that carry cholesterol through your bloodstream tend to deposit cholesterol, a waxy, fatty substance, in blood vessel walls. Buildup of these deposits can block the flow of blood to important organs and tissues which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. HDL is called the “good” cholesterol and can sweep cholesterol out of blood vessels, keeping them clearer.
It’s important to keep your LDL-C level low. For most people, the recommended optimal level is less than 100 mg/dL1.
How is LDL-C measured?
There are two ways: estimated and direct measurement. Most LDL-C is estimated using a calculation developed in 1972 that is based on total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Direct measurement of LDL-C was developed in the 1990s and, although more accurate in measuring LDL-C, it has not been used as much in studies so there is less clinical information available. Also, direct LDL-C only reports LDL-C and not total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, or triglyceride levels, which are also useful for assessing heart health.
So why a new calculation?
The Martin-Hopkins Calculation allows for personalization of the LDL-C versus a one-size-ﬁts all calculation like the old method that has been used since the 1970s.
The new Martin-Hopkins Calculation for LDL-C provides a more accurate estimation of LDL-C for these patients and doesn’t require fasting.
Quest Diagnostics is the first U. S.-based diagnostics laboratory to use the Martin-Hopkins Calculation in all LDL-C estimations. The method, developed by heart specialists at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, is comparable to direct LDL-C.
The new calculation benefits patients several ways:
- Improved accuracy in cases of very low levels of cholesterol and high triglycerides, or when the patient is already taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, for better management of heart health
- More personalized estimation—calculation is adjustable based on other individual factors
- The convenience of not having to fast prior to the blood draw
- More convenient for patients for whom fasting could be problematic (e.g., diabetics, children, the elderly)
Do you know your numbers?
Knowing your total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, and triglyceride levels is vital to maintaining good heart health—and good health overall. If you don’t know yours, talk to your doctor about if this test is right for you.
1 2002 NCEP ATP III guideline; 2013 ACC/AHA Lipid treatment guideline.
2 Martin SS, Blaha MJ, Elshazly MB, Brinton EA, Toth PP, McEvoy JW, et al. Friedewald-estimated versus directly measured low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and treatment implications. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;62: 732–9.