Written by: Kate Higham
When it comes to maintaining a healthy heart, the spotlight often falls on cholesterol. However, another key biomarker also deserves our attention —Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a). High levels of Lp(a) can be an indicator of an increased risk for conditions such as heart disease and stroke. To empower you to take proactive steps towards a healthy heart, we’ll dive deeper into the world of Lp(a), exploring its function, the underlying causes of elevated levels, and, most importantly, the significance of screening for elevated levels.
What is Lipoprotein(a)?
Lipoprotein(a), often abbreviated as Lp(a), is a unique type of lipoprotein produced by the liver. Lipoproteins are particles of fats and proteins that transport cholesterol and other fats throughout the body.
Lp(a) is similar in structure to the more familiar LDL (low-density lipoprotein), commonly known as “bad cholesterol”. However, Lp(a) has an additional protein called apolipoprotein(a) attached to it. While some LDL is essential for our body’s functions, high Lp(a) levels can be a concern as it may contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
How is Lipoprotein(a) measured?
While the optimal Lp(a) level is still a subject of ongoing research, general guidelines suggest that Lp(a) concentrations below 30 mg/dL are considered low risk, while levels above 50 mg/dL are associated with higher cardiovascular risk . These guidelines serve as benchmarks; however, it’s important to note that factors like age, medical history, and existing health conditions may influence your healthcare provider’s interpretation of these levels.
Causes of high Lipoprotein(a) levels
Lp(a) levels are primarily (up to 90%) determined by a person’s genes . This genetic predisposition can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
While the primary cause of high Lp(a) links to genetics, it’s crucial to recognize that other factors can raise the risk of heart disease. These factors include being overweight, having elevated blood pressure, leading a sedentary lifestyle, consuming a diet high in saturated fats, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. The good news is that positive changes in these areas, such as adopting a healthier lifestyle and diet, can significantly improve heart health and overall well-being. It’s essential to consider genetic and lifestyle factors to manage cardiovascular risk effectively and take steps towards a healthier heart. Talk to your healthcare provider about what steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Why Lp(a) testing matters
By detecting high Lp(a) levels early on, you can take proactive steps to reduce your risk of heart disease. Screening helps identify individuals at high risk for cardiovascular issues, enabling early intervention and personalized strategies to promote heart health.
Approximately 20% of people worldwide have elevated Lp(a) levels . Screening may be recommended for certain individuals including those with a family history of heart disease or elevated LDL cholesterol levels. By getting tested for Lp(a) levels, we can better understand our cardiovascular risk and take appropriate steps to protect our heart health. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide more information about who may benefit from testing.
The test offered by LetsGetChecked’s for Lipoprotein(a)
The test offered by LetsGetChecked provides an overview of key biomarkers of heart health, including lipoprotein(a). The process is simple and convenient, requiring a single finger-prick blood sample. Our test unlocks essential insight into your:
● Total cholesterol: the total amount of cholesterol in your blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.
● Triglycerides: a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
● Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol: High LDL cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease or stroke.
● High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol: HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because high levels can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
● HDL % of total cholesterol.
● Lipoprotein(a) levels.
Lipoprotein(a) is an often-overlooked factor that plays a significant role in heart health. Elevated LP(a) levels can increase the risk of heart disease, making testing essential for early detection and timely intervention. By understanding the relevance of lipoprotein(a), you can proactively take steps to improve your health and improve overall well-being.
With the test offered by LetsGetChecked’s, monitoring your cholesterol, including lipoprotein(a) levels, has never been easier. Empower yourself to take charge of your heart health and make informed decisions to reduce the risk of heart disease. Always consult a healthcare provider if you are experiencing any symptoms or if you have any concerns about your health.
Check out our Heart Health knowledge hub for the insights you need to stay on top of your heart health.