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VAP Test Demonstrates Value of Fish Oil in Reducing Heart Risk for Super Bowl Champs
Date:2/19/2009

Advanced cholesterol test helps usher in new era of specialized test for cardiac risk assessment

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- For the Pittsburgh Steelers, adding a heart-healthy supplement to their diet may have given them the boost to win Super Bowl XLIII. That's according to a clinical study proving that fish oils dramatically improve cholesterol levels in professional football players. Findings were published January in the inaugural issue of Sports Health: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach.

The two-year study titled Evaluation of Lipid Profiles and the Use of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid in Professional Football Players evaluated 36 professional NFL football players, ages 23 to 41, from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Researchers assessed emerging cardiovascular risk factors, as found in the specialized VAP(R) Cholesterol Test, to determine whether omega-3 EFAs (essential fatty acids) found in fish oil can reduce these factors.

During a two month period of the regular 2006-2007 football season, each participant in the treatment group was given 2,560 mg/day of mixed EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the form of fish oil soft gels.

Results showed that the omega-3 oil raised the athletes' high-density lipoproteins (HDL--good cholesterol) and lowered triglycerides and other atherogenic subfractions. Elevated levels of triglycerides are associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These results suggest a strong benefit for lessening heart disease risk factors in football players and possibly other athletes throughout their active years, study authors said.

Measurement of emerging clinical and lipid risk factors in the study was done with the VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) Cholesterol Test from Atherotech, Inc. Such detailed cholesterol profiling has the ability to more accurately identify parents' true risk of heart disease, allowing for treatment and lifestyle changes that can decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

"We are now entering a new era of cardiac risk assessment," the study stated. "Newer specialized blood tests can fractionate blood lipids into many component molecules in order to better assess which lipid subfraction may possess a greater risk for causing disease."

The VAP Test, which is covered by most insurance providers and Medicare, provides physicians with direct measurement of LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL and all relevant cholesterol subclasses. These important but often overlooked subclasses include non-HDL, particle number as determined by accurate apoB, and emerging risk factors such as Lp(a), low-density lipoprotein remnants and small dense LDL.

Team Neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past 25 years and study co-author, Dr. Joseph Maroon, said the VAP Test identifies cardiovascular risks that a routine cholesterol test cannot. By using a subfraction cholesterol test (VAP test), therapeutic interventions can now be directed to specific and more potentially dangerous forms of cholesterol than the traditional total or "bad" cholesterols that have been targeted in the past, said Maroon, who also serves as vice chairman of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

A number of factors can put athletes at increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, which may also lead to metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes--all which point to heart disease.

"The professional football player statistically is at increased risk for future cardiovascular disease and sudden heart attack," Atherotech's Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Ehrlich said. "This study thoroughly demonstrates that fish oil improved good cholesterol and lowered damaging particles and triglycerides."

The VAP Test is also the only commercially available advanced lipid profile that routinely reports all three lipoprotein parameters -- LDL, non-HDL and apoB -- considered necessary by the 2008 expert consensus guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association and American College of Cardiology.

People with a family history or an existing condition of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease -- or who are already taking cholesterol-lowering medication -- are candidates for the comprehensive VAP Test. The VAP Test is available nationwide. For more information call 877.901.8510 or visit www.thevaptest.com. The Sports Heath: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach study may be found at http://sph.sagepub.com/content/1/1/21.full.

About Atherotech, Inc.

Atherotech is a cardio-diagnostic company focusing on direct measurement of the comprehensive lipid panel using the company's patented VAP technology, which directly measures the cholesterol content of all lipids, components and subclasses. The VAP Test is the first cholesterol profile to comply with updated National Cholesterol Education Program ATP III recommendations for LDL measurement and the only commercially available advanced lipid profile that routinely reports all three lipoprotein parameters considered necessary by the American Diabetes Association and American College of Cardiology expert consensus guidelines. The VAP Cholesterol Test is available through national and regional diagnostic laboratories and is reimbursed by many of the largest private insurers as well as Medicare. For more information, visit www.thevaptest.com.


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SOURCE Atherotech, Inc.
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