JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Every 33 seconds, a life is lost to cardiovascular disease, making it the primary cause of death for both men and women. Understanding your cholesterol level plays a crucial role in determining your risk. However, there is one aspect of cholesterol that frequently goes overlooked during screenings, and it might hold the key to identifying the potential of experiencing a heart attack at a younger age.
Do you know your number?
Knowing your LDL, or bad cholesterol number, can end up saving your life.
But now, there’s another number you should know.
Pamela Rama, MD, Cardiologist at Baptist Health in Jacksonville, FL, says, “So, think of your Lp(a), pronounced “L-P-little-A” as an LDL cholesterol on steroids, more aggressive, more inflammation, more plaque formation.”
Doctor Rama says lipoprotein (a) is like LDL’s evil twin. One in five people have high blood levels of fatty particles, or Lp(a).
Doctor Rama says, “It’s very aggressive and the people who probably have it are the ones who have heart attacks at a young age.”
High levels can triple a person’s risk of heart attack and increase your risk of stroke. You’re born with your Lp(a) level, and the number never changes, unless a new drug is released that will control it.
Doctor Rama says, “If you have it, there’s a 50% chance that you will pass it on to your children.”
Unlike LDL, statins don’t work in changing it. But there are now drugs in clinical trials that may have an impact down the road.
Doctor Rama says, “The PCSK9 inhibitors seem to reduce your Lp(a) by around 25%. There are others that are coming up that can reduce it up to 90%.”
Now the question is … if doctors do find a way to reduce the Lp(a) level, will it also reduce the risk of a heart attack? We’ll have to wait for the research to find out.
A person only needs their Lp(a) level checked once in their lifetime as they do not change. Testing for Lp(a) is a simple blood test and is already a part of the European Society Guidelines. Doctors are now working to make it standard practice in the US.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.