New Study Shows Lp(a) Joins LDL as Heart Disease Risk Factor


January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010 – LDL is not the only "bad cholesterol" according to a new study. A lipoprotein in the bloodstream called Lp(a) can also be labeled "bad cholesterol," according to the study Genetic Variants Associated with Lp(a) Lipoprotein Level and Coronary Disease, recently published in the New England Journal Of Medicine.

"This study will lead to changes in how physicians approach cholesterol testing and treatment because it demonstrates a growing need for expanded lipid profiling," said Michael Cobble, M.D., a family doctor at Canyons Medical Center in Sandy, Utah, and chief medical officer of the blood testing equipment company Atherotech Inc. "This was a well-designed study built on a foundation of several other studies showing a strong association between Lp(a) and heart disease. It gives us conclusive evidence that there is a link between increasing levels of Lp(a) and increasing risk of coronary artery disease, and it indicates that we can identify this added risk."

Cobble said the findings also help to partially explain why the standard cholesterol test fails to detect up to half the people at risk for coronary disease, and why many people with "normal cholesterol levels" still end up having heart attacks.

Standard cholesterol tests check for levels of LDL, HDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol. Atherotech developed the VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) Cholesterol Test that includes Lp(a) as part of its standard panel. Cobble said that while LDL, non-HDL and apoB remain the most dangerous and reliable indicators of heart disease risk, Lp(a) is now a strong additive predictor of risk.

Comprehensive lipid testing provided by the VAP Cholesterol Test reports Lp(a) along with other important cholesterol subclasses, non-HDL, emerging heart disease risk factors such as the apoB/apoAI ratio, low-density lipoprotein remnants and small dense LDL as well as triglyceride-rich remnant lipoproteins. The test also does not require fasting and provides a direct measurement of LDL.

The only currently available drug for lowering Lp(a) is niacin, although other drugs are currently in development.

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