Atherogenic Index: Definition, Atherogenic Diet and Measurement of the Atherogenic Index

Atherogenesis is the formation of plaque in the inner lining of the arteries and is associated with coronary heart disease or coronary heart disease.

Understanding atherogenesis

The ingestion of low density lipoproteins and low density lipoproteins modified or oxidized by macrophages leads to the accumulation of cholesterol esters and the formation of “foam cells”. These foam cells along with the T lymphocytes form the fatty streak.

When fat accumulates in the internal linings of the arteries, it causes what scientists call ” atheromas “; small pieces of fat.

However, these atheromas with the passage of time and an atherogenic diet, begin to absorb minerals from what they eat becoming what is commonly known as plaque.

Over time, your arterial plaques become harder and larger resulting in narrowing and “blockage” of your arteries.

In other words, an atherogenic diet and conditions such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes can cause atherogenesis that could later result in arteriosclerosis .

Why does atherogenesis occur?

Atherogenesis is an inflammatory response caused by a variety of risk factors, including:

  • High cholesterol.
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension .
  • High blood glucose levels.

Atherogenic diet:

Carrying an unhealthy lifestyle with a diet high in fat, sugar and salt contributes to the formation of atheromas.

An atherogenic diet is one that promotes atheromas, which are inflamed plaques inside the arteries. Atheromas are the hallmark of a cardiovascular disease called atherosclerosis, a primary risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Diets that promote atheroma are rich in cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fats and salt. Typical fast-food diets are often strongly atherogenic, although non-dietary factors also contribute to atheroma formation.

What is the atherogenic index?

Knowing your atherogenic index can help you understand how healthy or at risk for atherosclerosis you are.

When you deposit abnormal amounts of fat in your arteries, your risk of atherosclerosis increases. The gradual narrowing of your arteries that could eventually lead to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases increases.

While many people focus on their LDL and HDL, their bad and good cholesterol as an indicator of how healthy their heart is, another way to measure cardiovascular health is the plasma atherogenic index (AIP).

What is the atherogenic index of plasma?

Instead of looking at the classic proportions of HDL / Total cholesterol, now scientists are proposing that instead we attract triglycerides. The plasma atherogenic index is calculated by the log formula (TG / HDL-C) where the triglyceride levels are divided by the good cholesterol.

Naturally, the lower the ratio, the better the news for your heart’s health, because that would mean that your HDL, your good cholesterol, which protects against heart disease by taking LDL away from your heart, decreases your atherogenic index.

In other words, HDL is anti-atherogenic, does not cause cardiovascular diseases, but protects against it.

How to measure your atherogenic index?

When the resulting value is less than 0.11, the individual is classified as low risk of cardiovascular disease, when it is between 0.11 and 0.24 at medium risk of heart disease and those with more than 0.24 are classified as with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

Several scientists agree that looking at the AIP is a valid indicator that doctors must control when seeing patients.

When evaluated along with a host of other cardiovascular disease factors, the AIP can offer actionable ideas on what kind of changes in diet and lifestyle a person should make to improve their heart health.

The atherogenic index gives us a clue about how large the lipoprotein particles are in your blood. Scientists argue that smaller lipoprotein particles are more likely to oxidize compared to larger lipoprotein particles and, therefore, are more unhealthy.

When an individual possesses small, dense lipoproteins, and has also raised triglycerides and low HDL, this may be a valid indicator of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Many researchers suggest that the atherogenic index can be a useful predictor of cardiovascular risk compared to only measuring lipid concentrations, such as LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.