A Heart Disease Risk Even Your Doctor May Not Know About

It’s a healthy idea to know all your cholesterol numbers, no matter how fit you feel. Photo Credit: NAPS


If you’re like most people, you’re familiar with LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein), particles in the blood that carry what is often referred to as “bad” and “good” cholesterol. There is, however, another lipoprotein particle you should be aware of: lipoprotein(a), also known as Lp(a), which poses a high risk of early cardiovascular disease.

The Danger

High levels of Lp(a) travel through the bloodstream and enter into the arteries, leading to gradual narrowing of the artery that can limit blood supply to the heart or brain. This increases the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke and aortic stenosis. Lp(a) is the most prevalent genetic risk factor for coronary heart disease and aortic stenosis. One in five people have inherited high Lp(a)-63 million in the U.S. Anyone with a parent with elevated Lp(a) has a high risk of inheriting it.

People with high levels of Lp(a) can be at risk even if they’re physically fit and have “normal” LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, for many, the first sign of the disease is a heart attack or stroke.

A Simple Test May Be The Answer

The good news is a simple blood test measures Lp(a) concentrations, though it’s not included in most standard lipid panel tests. Current cholesterol guidelines miss 8 percent of people who have a cardiovascular event whose only risk factor is high Lp(a). Knowing Lp(a) levels could be the first step in preventing up to 120,000 cardiovascular events in the U.S. every year.

Saving Lives In Three Easy Steps

1. Recognition: Test everyone for high lipoprotein(a) once in their lifetime.

2. Prevention: If you have high Lp(a), work with your physician to develop an aggressive prevention plan.

3. Vigilance: People with high Lp(a) levels should be aware of stroke and heart attack symptoms.

“Fit, healthy people can inherit genetic factors like high Lp(a) that cause early heart disease,” said Dr. Henry N. Ginsberg, the Irving Professor of Medicine at Columbia University. “Research continues to show the significance of Lp(a) as an independent, genetic risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

The Lipoprotein(a) Foundation’s mission is to empower patients to prevent cardiovascular events and support research into a specific treatment for elevated lipoprotein(a). “We are advocating that Lp(a) testing be added to the standard cholesterol test to increase the rate of early diagnosis and provide a more accurate prediction of risk,” said Sandra Revill Tremulis, founder of Lipoprotein(a) Foundation.

Learn More

For further facts, visit www.TESTLpa.org.