# Atherogenic index: what is it and how does it measure the risk of atherosclerosis

Our body is a very complex organism, made up of several systems that work together to ensure our survival.

These systems interact with each other, often being interdependent, so 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 transported from the heart to the organs and vice versa, so that it allows oxygen and nutrients to be transported to the cells of the body. body.

However, the vascular system can suffer from certain alterations that can interfere with the proper functioning of the body, such as atherosclerosis. This problem is linked to the cholesterol level in our body, and knowing the risk of suffering can save our life. One way to do this is to calculate the atherogenic index, Which we will talk about throughout this article.

## What is the atherogenic index?

The atherogenic index is a mathematical formula formulated in order to be able to calculate the risk of a person suffering from atherosclerosis their blood cholesterol levels. So, and based on some values ​​of this index that are taken as a criterion for it, we can determine or predict the likelihood that a person’s arteries will end up clogging if no changes are made to their levels.

The atherogenic index, also called the Castelli index based on the director of the study that gave rise to the formula (William Castelli), mathematically expresses the relationship or proportion between the total cholesterol level and the cholesterol level blood. High density lipoprotein or HDL (also known as good cholesterol), in milligrams. More precisely, the general formula is as follows: Atherogenic index = total cholesterol / HDL cholesterol.

However, although this is the most commonly considered atherogenic index, it should in fact be borne in mind that one could speak of different atherogenic indexes: there are different formulas that make it possible to obtain an index to assess the risk of atherosclerosis. In addition to the ratio of total cholesterol to good cholesterol, one can calculate the ratio of bad cholesterol to good cholesterol (LDL / HDL) or the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol.

## Interpretation and reference values

The interpretation of the results of the atherogenic index (considering the first of the formulas mentioned) must take into account the fact that the presence of high values ​​of HDL cholesterol will cause us to have a relatively low index, Which implies a lower risk of obstruction and heart problems.

On the other hand, proportionately lower HDL cholesterol levels than others cause or make more likely the presence of heart problems, assuming that in total cholesterol there will be more prevalence of low density lipoprotein than bad cholesterol. The resulting index will be low.

In terms of values, we can see that as a benchmark there is a minimal risk of atherosclerosis when we get an index of 3.5 or less. The risk becomes moderate when the values ​​are between 3.5 and 4.5, when it becomes necessary to start controlling cholesterol and it would be useful to put in place prevention strategies. Finally, these values ​​greater than 4.5 represent a maximum risk of atherosclerosis, that is to say that there is a very high risk of suffering from a certain type of coronary heart disease. Measures must be put in place to lower cholesterol and monitor these levels.

these levels they must also take into account the sex of the person in question: High risk is in males in values ​​of 4.5-5 or more, while in females we can consider high risk any value greater than 4.

## Atherosclerosis and its risks

The atherogenic index serves, as we have said, to visualize through numerical values ​​the risk of suffering from atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is one vascular disease or disorder characterized by the buildup of cholesterol and lipid particles in the walls of the arteries. The walls of the vessels are covered, so there is less space for blood to flow and increases the risk of blockage. It is also common for the walls of the arteries to harden and lose their flexibility, which, together with an increase in blood pressure (because the duct through which the blood passes is narrower) can lead to ruptures of the vessels and hemorrhages. .

Atherosclerosis is a relatively common but uncontrollable disease it can be very dangerous and lead to death. It is a disease that can lead to bleeding, thrombosis or stroke, as well as serious heart problems. The brain, kidneys or liver can also be severely affected as they can lead to cell death. One of the biggest risks of this disease is that it usually doesn’t cause symptoms until it leads to complications, so treatment may be delayed.

Fortunately this risk can be controlled by lowering bad cholesterol or increasing good cholesterol, Diet, weight or exercise control. Risk factors must also be controlled and taken into account: age, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, physical inactivity or the presence of a family history are risk factors to be assessed and some may be use tobacco to lower cholesterol.

#### Bibliographical references:

• Herrera-Villalobos, JE, Sil Jaimes, PA. Pinal González, FM, Garduño Alanís, A .; Santamaría Benhumea, AM and Roda Villalpando, JP (2012). Atherogenic index as a risk factor for pre-eclampsia syndrome. CorSalud; 4 (4): 261-265.
• Lopez, AA; Rivero, YI; Vicent, T .; Gil, M .; Thomas, M. and Riutord, B. (2015). Atherogenic indices among workers in different labor sectors in the Spanish Mediterranean region. Arteriosclerosis Clinic and Research, 27 (3): 118-128.
• Núñez, MV; Ferrer, M .; Meneau, Texas; Cabalé, B .; Gómez, O. and Miguelez, R. (2007). Atherogenic risk factors in the population aged 19 to 39 in 2 family doctor’s offices. Rev Cubana Invest Biomed, 26 (2).