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Red flags for lipoprotein(a)

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:03pm

Lipoprotein(a), Lp(a), is an important cause for heart disease, heart attack, and coronary atherosclerotic plaque.

How do you know you have it?

Of course, it could be as simple as checking a blood level. But there are also a number of red flags for the presence of Lp(a), tell-tale signs that suggest it is present and contributing to the growth of coronary plaque.

I've seen so much of this pattern over the years that it's gotten so that I can pretty much pick out most of the people with Lp(a) just by either looking at them or by hearing their story. I do this simply by knowing what hints to look for.

Some of the red flags for Lp(a) include:

--High blood pressure in a slender person. Overweight is the overwhelmingly common reason for high blood pressure. However, inappropriate high blood pressure in a slender person can serve to tip you off that Lp(a) is present.

--HIgh LDL cholesterol poorly responsive to statin drugs. For instance, someone's LDL cholesterol of 190 mg/dl will be treated with Lipitor 40 mg, but drops to only 165 mg/dl, a very poor response. This can sometimes point towards Lp(a).

--Family clustering of heart disease in people before age 60. For instance, father with heart attack age 53, uncle with heart attack at age 55, aunt with heart attack age 59, etc. This clustering of risk, more often than not, signals Lp(a).

--Coronary disease or high heart scan score in the presence of relatively bland appearing lipids. For instance, LDL cholesterol 130 mg/dl, HDL 55 mg/dl, triglycerides 70 mg/dl on no medications or other efforts--figures ordinarily not associated with high likelihood of heart disease--yet heart disease is indeed present. This can mean that Lp(a) is the concealed culprit behind coronary atherosclerosis.

These red flags are not perfect. If you lack any of them, it doesn't necessarily rule out the possbility of having Lp(a). They simply serve as signs to suggest that Lp(a) may be lurking.

Once Lp(a) is identified, then the battle begins to gain control over this somewhat troublesome genetic pattern. Resourcesfulness and some ingenuity may be required. However, knowing that you have it shows you where to concentrate your efforts.

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