New way to predict heart disease risk

Researchers studied Lipoprotein 'A' levels in more than 800 men, women

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Lipoprotein "A" is a protein that is similar to LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Recent studies have shown a high Lipoprotein "A" level can be a risk factor for heart disease. Now, a new study finds an elevated Lp(a) level can be used to predict if someone is at risk for developing heart disease and just how big that risk may be.

"What this data showed is that it significantly added to the existing risk factors and the existing blood tests to help fine-tune and really hone in on who is at risk and who is not at risk," explained Dr. Stanley Hazen, who did not take part in the study but treats patients at Cleveland Clinic.

Innsbruck Medical University researchers in Innsbruck, Austria measured the Lipoprotein "A" levels in more than 800 healthy men and women and
followed them for 15 years. They looked at how accurate existing risk factors and blood tests are at predicting which people were at a low-risk for developing heart disease and which were at a higher risk.

They found adding the Lipoprotein "A" test results greatly improved the ability to reclassify 40% of the study participants as high or low risk. In fact, the Lp(a) level helped to better predict a person's risk for developing heart disease, even as far as 15-years out.

Researchers say the findings could lead to medications that lower Lp(a) levels.
Hazen agrees, but says until that happens people with high Lp(a) levels simply must take good care of themselves.

"Lowering your cholesterol, being more tightly controlled with your blood pressure, insuring that your blood sugars are well controlled," he said.

Take It To Heart

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