Monday, February 9, 2015

Living Up To The Standard

I've been on an annual blood screening for some years now, and the latest one was just about 2 weeks ago. The results were out just a few days ago, and I can say that I passed with flying colours, except that I received asterisks for "Total Cholesterol" and "LDL Cholesterol". An asterisk indicates an abnormal reading from what is considered the normal range or standard.

The above is just a portion of the results. Specifically, it's the part under the heading of Lipid Profile. At a glance, although there are asterisks in the results, the above figures are not considered to be alarming, because the readings are just slightly outside of the standard normal range. However, I must point out that I've been on statins for many years now, and when taking into account the kind of sports that I've been doing all these years, it's kinda worrying that I'm still getting asterisks in my lipid profile test.

I've read up quite a bit on this subject, and what I've gathered so far is that there is no clear-cut consensus as to the so-called "safe" range. Some medical scientists are not even looking at cholesterol as an isolated factor for heart disease. Nevertheless, it's still disturbing to have an "abnormal" reading, you see. One would like everything to be perfect; to be within the standard normal/safe range, which would then (hopefully) translate into minimizing the risks of getting a heart attack.

I note with interest, however, that these so-called normal range, at least for lipid profile, have been undergoing some sort of evolution over the years. That word "evolution" usually gives an idea of a process that happens over a very long period, but the evolution that I speak of here is just a duration of a few decades.

As I said, I've been screening my blood for some years now, and if I'm not much mistaken, the normal range for "Total Cholesterol" used to be less than 5.6 mmol/L or thereabout. Somehow, over the years, the figure kept changing—gradually, it became lower and lower. I suppose it's entirely possible that new studies were conducted over the years, and then new findings were found, which in turn resulted in new conclusions, leading to changes in the standard safe range. The above result for "Total Cholesterol" would have been without an asterisk if the test were conducted a few years ago, because the reading of 5.2mmol/L used to be within the standard normal range. But that is no longer the case today.

If I were to look at the trend of the standard normal range, I won't be surprised that one of these days, the standard for "Total Cholesterol" would dip below 5.0 mmol/L. In fact, I foresee the time will come when the standard would be impossibly low that the only way to achieve it is with the help of drugs. And I'm failing the test now even with the help of statin! 

Of course I'm not gonna be overly worried about those asterisks. I've done my part; I'll leave the rest to fate. But it would be interesting to know what would the normal standard be if the studies and experiments were conducted by people who have nothing to do with pharmaceutical companies. I'm guessing maybe the figures would be different?

No comments: