Health

Key Genetic Marker for Heart Attack Risk Largely Ignored

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., but a significant genetic risk factor, Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a), is often overlooked.

Lp(a) is a protein that, when present in high levels in the blood, significantly increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes​​​​.

Understanding Lp(a) and Its Impact

Lp(a) is a key player in cardiovascular health, associated with atherosclerosis, inflammation, and increased clotting risk.

Dr. Seth Baum notes that these factors contribute to the progression of heart diseases and strokes​​​​.

Approximately 20% of the population is at risk due to elevated Lp(a) levels, with higher prevalence in certain genetic groups, including Black and South Asian Americans.

Despite this, awareness and testing for Lp(a) levels are surprisingly low, with less than 1% of the population having their levels checked​​​​.

Assessment and Limitations

Current heart health risk assessment tools do not include Lp(a), leading to underdiagnosis and undertreatment.

Dr. Bradley Serwer highlights the need for more comprehensive evaluations that consider Lp(a) levels​​.

While lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can’t directly reduce Lp(a) levels, Dr. Baum advises reducing other cardiovascular risk factors to mitigate overall risk​​. In some regions, like Europe and Canada, universal screening for Lp(a) is recommended, contrasting with the U.S., where testing is limited to higher-risk patients​​.

Future Therapeutic Approaches

Currently, lipoprotein apheresis is a therapy for high-risk patients, and there are drugs in development targeting high Lp(a) levels​​.

Brett Sealove emphasizes ongoing research to better understand and treat conditions associated with elevated Lp(a)​​.

With information from Fox News.

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