Those who are hesitant to pursue more advanced testing for CVD risk by paying for tests not covered by government-run healthcare, can now get insight into their cardiovascular health in a standard blood test.
The CBC (Complete Blood Count) is routinely done during annual physicals or when you complain of a malady to your GP. Within the results are your white blood-cell count or WBC which among other things lists these two items:
A medical study in 2014 identified the level of Neutrophils as well as the ratio between Neutrophils and Lymphocytes as being a prognostic indicator of elevated CVD risk. You can read the study abstract at the link below:
If your Neutrophil count is above 2.0 xE9/L you may still be in the normal range, however the study notes those with such a reading tend to have an increased risk of developing CVD. Furthermore, the ratio between these two items (NLR) implies elevated CVD risk if it exceeds 1.5. Those with a ratio of 4.5 or greater showed a greater risk of death from CVD.
Out of curiosity, I checked my blood test from 2005, 10 years before I had bypass surgery, and sure enough my neutrophil count was elevated at 3.6 xE9/L, and my ratio was 1.9.
These two platelets are white blood cells that respond to disease and infection. In essence, at the dangerous levels noted, they indicate a level of low-grade inflammation, similar to a CRP test (C-Reactive Protein), that triggers the degradation of LDL into VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoproteins). VLDL is the atherogenic component of LDL-C.
I also noted that my triglyceride level in 2005 was 1.42 mmol/l, which is within the 'normal' guideline, but the optimal level of triglycerides, we now know, is less than 0.79 mmol/l.
My LDL-C was also elevated at the time at 4.58 mmol/l yet the government guideline at the time for 'low-risk' individuals was a value greater than 4.50 mmol/l. Since I wasn't a smoker or drinker, was quite active and only 43 years old at that time, my doctor considered me 'low risk'. He mentioned my cholesterol was 'borderline' and that I should be more careful with my diet but didn't think my risk-stratification should be any different.
Of further interest, my cholesterol/HDL ratio was 5.09, which was below the 6.0 ratio set by the government guideline for 'low risk' individuals. Had this new NLR biomarker been understood at that time, it may have alerted my doctor to place me into a higher risk-stratification and insist on a more aggressive lifestyle and dietary intervention.
A diet that is high in simple carbohydrates, such as white flour products - including pasta and white bread; white rice, white potatoes, as well as refined sugars like the white powder, honey, agave; alcohol, and alcohol derivatives used as sweeteners in packaged products, as well as soft-drinks and fruit juices - leads to elevated levels of triglycerides which cause low-grade inflammation, that eventually leads to CVD.
In my own case, this new information on the NLR and neutrophil levels, in combination with my elevated triglyceride and LDL-C levels, was confirmed by my development of CVD over the subsequent 10-years. I was on a 'Dead-End Road' and didn't know it.
I encourage all of you to ensure you get a hard copy of your blood test results and track the information carefully.
Thanks to Markl60 for providing me with a link to a blog where I uncovered this information.