Despite its clear guidelines, 80 percent of women who are of childbearing age have not had a lipid profile check done in their lifetime. Considering its importance, it's surprising that the rate isn't lower.
A lipid profile screening measures the level of cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats in your blood. While these types of fat are important, they're sometimes harmful and can be the probable cause of a stroke, as well as other ailments. As a precautionary measure of prevention, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) endorse that all adults above the age of 20 have a lipid profile screening done.
Moreover, if tis cholesterol screening for women is done timely, then a lot of diseases can be prevented in both their blood relatives and children.
According to Dipika J. Gopal, MD who is associated with the cardiovascular division at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, "If we can optimize cholesterol screening per the ACC/AHA guideline, we would more routinely identify inherited diseases and be able to do a cascade of testing and change the trajectory of a family's life because it's not just that woman, it's also her children and other blood relatives who might be affected."
Though there are no strict guidelines pertaining to when a pregnant woman should have a lipid profile screening, it's evident that a high level of cholesterol increases the risks related to pregnancy and preterm babies. The ratio of TG to high-density lipoprotein has a direct correlation with the women’s ability to bear children at all, let alone one.
In most cases, people do not get a cholesterol screening done because they never visit any healthcare provider for checkups. Another reason is that their primary caregiver doesn't recommend having a cholesterol screening. It's only during pregnancy or post-delivery that a woman is in regular contact with her caregiver. The cholesterol level in pregnant women is usually high, so the postpartum time is ideal to get a lipid screening done to bring down the number of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases every year.
Dr. Gopal has also highlighted, "Screening women for cholesterol has long-term implications on maternal and fetal health. Knowing if a woman has high cholesterol before pregnancy is also beneficial in assessing her cardiometabolic risk [a clustering of conditions that make diabetes and heart disease more likely even at young ages] and can allow us to more appropriately counsel in her pregnancy and for her future health,".
Approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population suffers from high cholesterol. But since the symptoms are not evident until a heart attack or stroke occurs, the majority tend to ignore it. So, it's vital to think of ways through which the lipid screening or cardiovascular risk assessment can be done in the prenatal stage itself, instead of in the postnatal stage when a lot of damage has already been done to the bloodline.