You may know that having normal cholesterol levels in your blood are important for helping prevent heart attacks and strokes. But you may not know that there is another factor in your blood work that can be just as important! It’s a blood test you can request, and the result will tell you if it’s important for you.
Lipoprotein(a) is a particle in your blood which carries cholesterol, fats, and proteins. The amount your body makes is inherited and determined by the time you are born. It does not change very much during your life and is not affected by diet or exercise.
Lipoprotein(a) is also known as Lp(a), L-p-a, Lipoprotein-little-a, and L-p-little-a. Some cholesterol and Lp(a) in your blood is normal. A high level of LDL, the bad cholesterol, increases your risk for heart attack or stroke. High levels of Lp(a) also increase your risk, even if your cholesterol numbers are normal! About 20 percent of people, or 1 in 5, have high levels of Lp(a). This blood test is not done as part of your usual blood testing but can be requested.
Here are some reasons an Lp(a) blood test may be important for you:
- Having high levels of LDL, even while taking medicine to treat it.
- You or a family member have had a heart attack or stroke at an early age, men younger than 55 years old and women less than 65 years old.
- You or a family member developed high blood pressure at an early age.
- A family member has high Lp(a). If an adult has high Lp(a), their children have a 1 in 2 chance of inheriting it.
- Having FH, Familial Hypercholesterolemia, an inherited condition of very high cholesterol levels.
Get tested, ask your nurse or doctor if you have questions.
- Join a clinical trial. Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research currently has an enrolling study, call 904-730-0166 for more information. If you are eligible for this study, Lp(a) testing is provided at no cost to you.
- Ask your Doctor to order the lab test. Several labs perform it:
- Cleveland Heart Lab / Quest
- HDL labs
- Boston Heart Diagnostics
Be aware of your personal risks.
Reach healthy goals for your cholesterol results with dietary choices, exercise, and medication if needed.
Stay healthy, stay active, exercise, eat naturally, have fun, love, laugh!
Written by: Julia Baker, RN, adapted from a presentation by Albert Lopez, MD