Atherogenic index: what is it and how does it measure the risk of atherosclerosis?
A summary of the characteristics of the atherogenic index and how it is calculated.
Our body is a highly complex organism, made up of several systems that act together to enable our survival.
These systems interact with each other, often being interdependent, in such a way that the functioning of some affects or even allows others to perform their function. This is what happens with the vascular system, which allows blood to be carried from the heart to the organs and vice versa, in such a way that it allows oxygen and nutrients to be carried to the body's cells.
However, the vascular system can suffer some alterations that can hinder the correct functioning of the body, such as atherosclerosis. This problem is linked to the levels of cholesterol in our body, and being able to know the risk of suffering from it can save our lives. One way to do this is to calculate the atherogenic index, which we are going to talk about in this article.which we are going to talk about in this article.
What is the atherogenic index?
The atherogenic index is a mathematical formula formulated with the aim of being able to calculate a person's risk of suffering atherosclerosis from his or her levels of cholesterol in the blood. based on blood cholesterol levels. Thus, and based on certain values of this index that are taken as a criterion for this, we can determine or predict the probability that the person's arteries will end up clogged if no change is made to their levels.
The atherogenic index, also called the Castelli index after the director of the study that gave rise to the formula (William Castelli), expresses at a mathematical level the ratio or proportion between total cholesterol levels and high-density lipoprotein or HDL levels (also popularly known as good cholesterol), in milligrams. Specifically, the general formula is as follows: Atherogenic index= Total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol.
However, although this is the atherogenic index most often considered, it should be borne in mind that there are different atherogenic indices: there are different formulas that make it possible to obtain an index with which to assess the risk of the appearance of atherosclerosis. In addition to the ratio between total cholesterol and good cholesterol, we can calculate the ratio between bad cholesterol and good cholesterol (LDL/HDL) or the ratio between triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.
Interpretation and reference values
The interpretation of the results of the atherogenic index (considering the first of the above formulas) should take into account that the presence of high HDL cholesterol values will cause us to have a relatively low indexwhich implies a lower risk of obstruction and cardiac problems.
On the contrary, proportionally lower levels of HDL cholesterol than the rest will cause or make more likely will cause or make more likely the presence of cardiac problems, as this implies that in total cholesterol there will be more prevalence of bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The resulting index will be low.
With regard to the values, we can find that as reference values there is a minimal risk of atherosclerosis when we obtain an index of 3.5 or less. The risk becomes moderate when the values are between 3.5 and 4.5, at which point it becomes necessary to start controlling cholesterol and it would be useful to implement prevention strategies. Finally, values higher than 4.5 imply a maximum risk of atherosclerosis, i.e. there is a very high risk of suffering some type of coronary heart disease. It is necessary to establish measures to lower cholesterol and monitor these levels.
These levels should also take into account the sex of the person in questionThe elevated risk is in men at values of 4.5-5 or more, while in women we can consider as elevated risk any value above 4.
Atherosclerosis and its risks
The atherogenic index serves, as we have said, to visualize the risk of atherosclerosis by means of numerical values.
Atherosclerosis is a vascular disease or vascular alteration characterized by the accumulation of cholesterol and lipid particles in the walls of the arteries.. The vessel walls become coated, resulting in less space for blood to flow and increasing the risk of obstruction. Also, there is often hardening and loss of flexibility of the walls of the arteries, which together with increased Blood Pressure (due to the narrowing of the passageway through which the blood passes) can lead to vessel rupture and hemorrhage.
Atherosclerosis is a relatively common condition, but if left unchecked, it can be very dangerous and can lead to can be very dangerous and lead to death.. It is a disease that can lead to hemorrhages, thrombosis or stroke, as well as severe cardiac problems. Brain, kidneys or liver can also be tremendously affected, since it can cause cell death. One of the major risks of this disease is that it does not really generate symptoms until it causes complications, so treatment may be delayed.
Fortunately this risk can be controlled by lowering the bad cholesterol or raising the good cholesterol, controlling diet, weight, and blood pressure.by controlling diet, weight or exercise. Risk factors should also be controlled and taken into account: age, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, or the presence of a family history are risk factors to be assessed, and some such as sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, diabetes, or smoking can be controlled to reduce cholesterol levels.
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(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)