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Cardiovascular Disease: Labs, Risk Factors, and Prevention.

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Category: Health & Wellness

Cardiovascular Disease:  Labs, Risk Factors, and Prevention.

Analysis of a blood sample can provide important information regarding our heart health and there are a number of different tests clinicians use to assess a patient's CVD risk. While the standard lipid panel is helpful, digging deeper into your physiology can further guide prevention and treatment strategies.

A list of unconventional labs to consider:

Lp(a) is a blood protein associated with higher risk of heart attack and stroke. If Lp(a) is elevated, it is critical to have LDL cholesterol at an optimal level. Lp(a) is higher in African Americans.

Apo A1 is a major protein of HDL. Low levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Reducing visceral body fat and increasing
exercise can increase levels of Apo A1.

Apo B is a major protein found in cholesterol particles. There is an emerging hypothesis that Apo B may be a better overall marker of risk than LDL alone.

LpPLA2 is an enzyme associated with inflammation of the vessel walls as well as stroke and heart attack risk.

Homocysteine is an amino acid, which in high concentrations has been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, contributing to plaque formation by damaging the arterial walls.

Additional Considerations:

Sleep Study: Research has found a strong link between sleep apnea and high blood pressure, arrhythmia, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, studies show that when treated for sleep apnea, the risk of heart disease drops significantly. 11,12

Estrogen/Progesterone: Studies have shown that estrogen affects almost every tissue or organ system, including the heart and blood vessels.
Estrogen's known effects on the cardiovascular system include a mix of positive and negative. Progesterone is not only anti-atherogenic but also protects against coronary artery spasm.

Nutrient testing: Research has shown that nearly half of those taking multivitamins are still deficient. Vitamin, mineral and antioxidant deficiencies contribute to heart disease risk and progression.

Take Action Now

Managing your own health care and achieving your goal health status is largely in your control. Equally, improving your fitness and optimizing your nutrition doesn't require obsession over fad diets or exhaustion from irrational workouts.

Here are some strategies you can start implementing now:

Don't Smoke

  • Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. The chemicals in tobacco smoke are harmful to the function of the heart and damage the structure and function of blood vessels, thereby increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.


  • Studies support a higher rate of cardiovascular events and a higher death rate in those individuals with low levels of physical fitness. 13
  • Five to seven 30-minute sessions per week at a moderate intensity are recommended.
  • It has been shown that intermittent or shorter bouts of activity (ten minutes) have similar cardiovascular health benefits if performed at the moderate intensity level with an accumulated duration of at least 30 minutes per day.
  • Researchers estimate that as much as a 30% to 40% reduction in cardiovascular events is possible if most Americans were to meet the recommendations for activity. 14

Nutrition/Weight Control

  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is paramount to a healthy heart.
  • Eat nutritionally balanced meals. To help control portion sizes, fill at least half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Focus on permanent, positive changes for long-term health, rather than a short-term diet program.


  • One five-year study on patients with coronary heart disease who did fifteen minutes of transcendental meditation a day found a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke by 48%. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and lower stress levels. 15

Preventing cardiovascular disease diagnosis or progression means making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life.


  1. 11. Maas, A.H.E.M., and Y.E.A. Appelman. “Gender Differences in Coronary Heart Disease.” Netherlands Heart Journal 18.
  2. 12. (2010): 598–602.12. Willett, WC (July 2012). "Dietary fats and coronary heart disease". Journal of Internal Medicine. 272 (1): 13–24. 
  3. 13. Chowdhury, Rajiv; Warnakula, Samantha; Kunutsor, Setor; Crowe, Francesca; Ward, Heather A.; Johnson, Laura; Franco, Oscar H.; Butterworth, Adam S.; Forouhi, Nita G.; Thompson, Simon G.; Khaw, Kay-Tee; Mozaffarian, Dariush; Danesh, John; Di Angelantonio, Emanuele (18 March 2014). "Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk". Annals of Internal Medicine. 160 (6): 398–406.
  4. 14. de Souza RJ, Mente A, Maroleanu A, Cozma AI, Ha V, Kishibe T, Uleryk E, Budylowski P, Schünemann H, Beyene J, Anand SS (Aug 12, 2015). "Intake of saturated and transunsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies". BMJ. 351(h3978). 
  5. 15. Astrup, A; Dyerberg, J; Elwood, P; Hermansen, K; Hu, FB; Jakobsen, MU; Kok, FJ; Krauss, RM; Lecerf, JM; LeGrand, P; Nestel, P; Risérus, U; Sanders, T; Sinclair, A; Stender, S; Tholstrup, T; Willett, WC (April 2011). "The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010?". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 93 (4): 684–8.
  6. 16. Hooper; et al. (Apr 2016). "Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease". Sao Paulo Med J. 134 (2): 182–3.
  7. 17. Hooper L, Martin N, Abdelhamid A, Smith GD (2015). "Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Jun 10(6).
  8. 18. Sacks, Frank M.; Lichtenstein, Alice H.; Wu, Jason H.Y.; Appel, Lawrence J.; Creager, Mark A.; Kris-Etherton, Penny M.; Miller, Michael; Rimm, Eric B.; Rudel, Lawrence L.; Robinson, Jennifer G.; Stone, Neil J.; Van Horn, Linda V. (2017). "Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular
  9. Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association". Circulation: CIR.
  10. 19. Malik AH, Akram Y, Shetty S, Malik SS, Yanchou Njike V. Impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on blood pressure. Am J Cardiol. 2014 May 1;113(9):1574-80. 
  11. 20. Yang, Quanhe, et al. “Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults.” JAMA Internal Medicine, vol. 174, no. 4, Jan. 2014, p. 516.
  12. 21. Luyster, Faith S. et al. “Traditional and Nontraditional Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Comorbid Insomnia and Sleep Apnea.” Sleep 37.3 (2014): 593–600.
  13. 22. Wang, Jiayang et al. “Impact of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome on Endothelial Function, Arterial Stiffening, and Serum Inflammatory Markers: An Updated Meta-analysis and Meta-regression of 18 Studies.” Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease 4.11 (2015).
  14. 23. Pate RR, Pratt MP, Blair SN, et al. Physical activity and public health: a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. JAMA,. 1995; 273: 402–407.
  15. 24. Myers, J. “Exercise and Cardiovascular Health.” Circulation, vol. 107, no. 1, July 2003.
  16. 25. Schneider, R. H., et al. “Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: Randomized, Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in Blacks.” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, vol. 5, no. 6, Jan. 2012, pp.750–758.


We hope that you find this article helpful!   

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In Health,
Team EnFuse 

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