Advanced PLAC (Lp-PLA2)
A PLAC blood test can help identify a plaque build-up causing clogging of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other substances found in your blood. Hardening or furring of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is caused when this plaque accumulates on your artery walls. As the plaque hardens over time, your arteries become narrow, leading to restricted blood flow that can damage your organs and stop them functioning properly.
The British Heart Foundation have found that the first evidence of furring of the arteries may appear in people in their 20s and 30s, but it will often not give any noticeable warning signs for years to follow.
Assessing stroke and heart attack risks using computer programmes that grade individuals based on age, sex, ethnicity, cholesterol level, blood pressure, smoking status and family history can be very helpful. But research has shown that one in five individuals who have suffered a heart attack might not have been graded as being at high or moderate risk by the currently available computer programmes before their heart attacks occurred. Atherosclerotic plaques can develop slowly over decades, but they often lead to no symptoms until a plaque suddenly ruptures. The Lp-PLA2 blood test has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for assessing the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. Moreover, an expert review published in the American Journal of Cardiology concluded that neither exercise heart testing on a treadmill nor most X-ray/ultrasound techniques will identify individuals at high risk for atherosclerotic plaque rupture. That’s where the Lp-PLA2 test comes in, although it’s important to remember this test is not diagnostic of CHD or ischaemic stroke; it is a risk indicator. Some people with increased concentrations of Lp-PLA2 will not develop these conditions – likewise, others with normal levels will. The Lp-PLA2 test should always be used in addition to measuring and assessing traditional risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose. If your Lp-PLA2 levels are raised, you will need to take a more detailed review of all your risk factors for heart disease and stroke, plus closer monitoring by your own GP. Adverse lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, inactivity, poor diet and excessive alcohol intake will also need to be addressed. Your GP may also want to take a closer look at any risk factors which can be altered, even if your results for these risks are in the ‘normal’ range. For example, your GP might suggest that you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol even further if raised Lp-PLA2 levels are found.
All our tests have been specially designed to be convenient and non-invasive. Once you’ve booked your appointment, full preparation instructions will be provided in your confirmation email or letter. You can continue to eat and drink normally before your appointment, and you’ll also remain fully clothed throughout.