Jasmine Moghissi, M.D.

Announcing Berkeley HeartLab Comprehensive Blood Testing

We are pleased to announce we now offer personalized medicine and wellness recommendations in conjunction with the Berkeley HeartLab program. 

80% of people with coronary artery (heart) disease have normal cholesterol levels.  Despite “adequate” control on medication, many people still have heart attacks and stroke.  Obviously, today’s routine cholesterol tests are failing to identify the majority of people who are at risk for heart attacks.  The limited focus of these tests on “good” and “bad” cholesterol is simply not good enough to accurately identify those most at risk.  So, how can you protect yourself?  

Cholesterol guidelines are made by committees, and therefore are compromises.  They also lag years behind the research, and have to take into account the cost of implementing them for the entire population.  However, some people would like more information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.  The Berkeley HeartLab test is a comprehensive blood test that is based on current research targeting vascular disease risks such as heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.  The blood test combines chemical and genetic testing.  It allows us to personalize treatment plans based on genetics, the size of cholesterol particles, and the level of arterial inflammation.  It also allows us to predict likely reactions to different medications, foods, alcohol, stress, and exercise.

What is Berkeley HeartLabs?

Berkeley HeartLabs was founded in 1996 as an offshoot of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where the technology for these state of the art tests was developed.  All tests, results, and recommendations are based on the results of decades of cardiac studies.  Many of these studies utilized detailed, expensive testing that is not available to the public.  Researchers at LBNL developed proprietary tests that were easier to perform, thus less expensive, and licensed them to Berkeley HeartLabs to offer them to the general population.  Over the years, the tests and recommendations have been refined, and more tests have been added as we have learned more about heart disease. 

What does the Berkeley HeartLab test include?

An evaluation would be based on a panel of specific test of your blood sample.  All of these tests help assess risk for vascular disease (heart attack, stroke, diabetes).  A typical evaluation would include.

  • Routine lipid panel, including total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, TG
  • LDL particle size
  • HDL particle size
  • Apo B - LDL particle number
  • Lp(a) – high levels can cause blood to clot too easily, inherited, can alter with medications
  • Homocysteine
  • Lp-PLA2 – measures imminent stroke risk
  • Highly Sensitive CRP – measures inflammation
  • Fibrinogen – another measure of inflammation
  • NT-proBNP – a measure of cardiac stress
  • Insulin – measure of early insulin resistance and risk for diabetes
  • Genetic Tests:
    • Apo E Genotype - identifies how people respond to dietary fat
    • Kif6 Genotype – identifies if certain medications would be helpful
    • LPA Genotype - identifies if taking aspirin would reduce risk heart disease
    • 9p21 Genotype - identifies people with a risk of early onset heart attack, abdominal aortic aneurysm and heart disease risk

Who would be a good candidate for this test?

Anyone who has any of the following risk factors:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol (High LDL, TG, or low HDL)
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoker
  • Family history of heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease

How much does it cost?

Insurance generally covers most of the cost.  Berkeley will bill you the balance, but for insured patients the entire panel typically costs no more than $209 (depending on which tests are ordered), and should be reimbursable by your FSA.  With some insurers, like Medicare, there is no out of pocket cost to the patient.  If you have no insurance, your cost will be up to $790.  For more and up to date information about participating insurers, please visit Berkeley’s website.

So, how do I sign up?

If you are a regular patient already being treated for one of the above conditions, just call for an appointment for a “Berkeley blood draw”.  Otherwise, please make an appointment to discuss testing with one of us.  You will need to fast for 12-14 hours for the test.  The results will take about 2 weeks to come back, so make a follow up appointment for 2 weeks after you have your blood drawn. 

What then?

We will review your results in detail, give you a cool color copy of your results, and make recommendations for possible treatment, which may include medication, dietary changes, exercise and/or stress reduction.  We may want to do follow up testing in several months to see how you respond to the treatment.  Follow up testing will not be the entire panel, and will be at a lower cost.  We also may refer you to the 4myheart Program, which is free to all patients for 9 months after the date of their last Berkeley HeartLab test.  Through this program you will have access to a registered dietician/clinical educator who can advise you on nutrition, exercise, medication, and stress reduction.  These recommendations will be personalized according to your test results.

We are pleased to offer these exclusive state of the art tests for all those who are interested in proactively improving their health to live a longer and healthier life.