The Complete Guide to ApoB Test

Apolipoproteins are the building blocks of lipoproteins including high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Apolipoprotein (ApoB) is the structural backbone of three lipoproteins including:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • Intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL)
  • Very-low density lipoprotein (VLDL)

While ApoB test is not part of routine protocol, doctors often suggest doing the test to determine one’s risk of atherosclerotic heart disease. This is especially true if you have a family history of heart disease or there are some risk factors (such as high cholesterol and triglycerides).

What is Apolipoprotein B?

Apolipoprotein B or ApoB is a protein component of low-density lipoprotein containing >90% of the LDL proteins. This protein exists in two different forms, namely ApoB-100 (present in the lipoproteins of human liver), and ApoB-48 (present in the gut).

In low-risk individuals, an ApoB of less than 100 mg/dL is healthy. In high-risk individuals (with cardiovascular or diabetes), less than 80 mg/dL is optimal.

Your Doctor Suggested ApoB Test: Why?

When there is an increased concentration of ApoB containing lipoproteins, the risk of developing heart disease increases. Your doctor will advise you to get the test done, if you have a family history of heart disease. Depending on the results of the test, your doctor will determine the risk of developing CVD or cardiovascular disease.

You may also want to take the test to help your doctor monitor treatment for hyperlipidemia. Thus, your doctor will be able to diagnose a rare phenomenon i.e., ApoB deficiency.  Besides this, an ApoB test also helps in circumstances when standard cholesterol tests are not accurate.

How is the ApoB Test Performed?

The Apolipoprotein B-100 test involves taking a small blood sample from a vein in your arm. For better understanding, let’s break down the steps:

  1. A healthcare practitioner will tie a band around your arm to help find the veins with ease
  2. Upon finding out the desired area, he or she will use some antiseptic to clean
  3. You may feel a stinging sensation when he or she applies the needle to collect your blood
  4. He or she will store the blood in a tube
  5. Upon successful blood collection, he or she will remove the needle and apply some pressure for a few seconds
  6. He or she will put a gauge over the wound
  7. The practitioner will send the blood sample to a laboratory for further testing purposes

How Do You Prepare for the Test?

In most cases, doctors advise against consuming water for several hours before the Apoe gene test. Your best course of action should be to consult your doctor regarding the necessary steps to be taken before the test. Mention if you are already using any supplements, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medicines as they may have an impact on the accuracy of the test.

Are There Any Risks Involved?

The short answer is “No”. As long as you are not afraid of blood being drawn out of your body, you are good to go.

However, there may be some side effects of the test you may encounter, which includes but not limited to:

  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Accumulation of blood under the skin
  • Bleeding at the puncture site
  • Infection

What Do the Abnormal Results Mean?

The optimal range of ApoB in blood is less than 100 mg/dL. You are more likely to receive normal results if you have appropriate amount of lipoprotein in the blood. Therefore, the risk of developing heart disease is lower in your case.

However, if you receive abnormal test results, do not fret. Know what they mean before jumping to a conclusion. Abnormal results mean high and low levels of ApoB.

  • In case of high ApoB levels

ApoB levels above 110 mg/dL are high. If your results are higher than 100 mg/dL, you have a higher than normal risk of developing heart disease.

  • In case of low ApoB levels

If the test results are lower than 100 mg/dL, chances are that there may be some underlying factors preventing your body from producing apolipoproteins in appropriate amounts. The factors may include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Reye syndrome
  • Severe sickness
  • Hyperactive thyroid
  • Liver scarring or cirrhosis
  • A rare genetic disorder i.e., Apolipoprotein B deficiency

No matter what test results you may receive, you must consult a doctor to start the treatment as soon as possible, (if required).

Other Factors That May Affect the Test Results

apart from certain underlying conditions, your lifestyle choices and medications might have an impact on the results of Apo B blood test. The factors are:

  • Weight loss
  • High-fat diet
  • Presence of beta blockers
  • Thyroid medication
  • Surgery
  • Certain herbs and supplements
  • Diuretics
  • Hormone drugs such as estrogen or androgen

As you can see the factors can affect your test results, consulting with your doctor first works in your favor. Also bear this in mind that the normal ranges of ApoB may vary between different laboratories, regions, the methods used, gender, age and family history of the patient.

Before taking any medication, make sure you consult with your doctor to learn more about what some specific results mean.

Is Smoking Associated with Higher ApoB Levels?

Recent studies have confirmed that regular smokers exhibit higher levels of ApoB in their blood than non-smokers. The association was significant in male smokers than their female counterparts.

People who smoke regularly are more likely to follow a less healthy diet that would affect ApoB levels in the blood.

What about Drinking Coffee? Does It Affect ApoB Levels?

Drinking more than two cups of coffee a day increases the levels of ApoB in the blood. Individuals drinking more than 3 cups of boiled coffee a day have increased levels of ApoB.

Final Thoughts

Improving your diet and following a healthy lifestyle are the keys to keep ApoB numbers in check. Apart from that you may also do some exercise on a regular basis to lower your chances of developing heart disease in the long run. Also, keep in touch with your doctor at regular intervals to make sure everything is under control.