Cholesterol is not Evil but High Lp(a) is a Killer
Here’s a secret most drug manufacturers don’t want you to know – millions of people die from heart attacks with normal cholesterol levels.
How can that be?
The reason is that total cholesterol is a poor predictor of heart disease. It’s not the evil villain it’s been made out to be. In fact, we can’t be healthy and can’t live without cholesterol.
What is an evil villain to heart health is a sub-fraction of a cholesterol particle. In this post, we’ll discuss ways to prevent or lower this heart disease risk factor.
What is Lipoprotein (a)?
Lipoprotein (a) is also known as Lp(a). It is a sub-fraction of an LDL particle. It’s made in the liver and are one of the particles that transports cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood stream. Lp(a) is small, dense and very inflammatory.
The amount of Lp(a) made by your body is inherited from one or both of your parents by the genes passed on to you when you were born.
Some level of Lp(a) is normal. A high level of Lp(a) though dramatically increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. If high levels of Lp(a) travel through the bloodstream, it collects in the arteries, causing them to become inflamed and to narrow and restrict blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys and legs.
Lp(a) is a much better indicator of heart disease than total cholesterol levels. The reason is simple…high Lp(a) levels can kill you…whereas total cholesterol is a poor predictor of disease.
The Hazards of High Lp(a)
It’s estimated that one in five people have high Lp(a) levels. Some of the hazards of high Lp(a) include an increased risk of:
- Fatty deposit buildup in the walls of your arteries, called atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or CVD.
- Heart attacks
- Aortic valve damage
- Strokes (via blockages in the neck arteries)
- Blockages in the leg arteries (peripheral vascular disease)
- Blood clots (thrombosis)
Normal Lp(a) Levels & Testing
Lp(a) is reported in in either mg/dL or nmols/L. I prefer levels less than 30 mg/dL or less than 75 nmol/L. Anything higher leads to a higher risk of the factors mentioned previously in this post.
Although a simple blood test can measure Lp(a), it is not included in most standard cholesterol or lipid panel tests. It’s important ALL people speak to their physician or lab to insist on this vital test.
And don’t be afraid to test children. The earlier this risk factor is detected, the easier it is to manage. If a parent has high Lp(a), there is a higher likelihood their child does too.
Big Pharma has pushed statins as a solution for high Lp(a) levels. However, clinical trials of statins have proven them to be very ineffective. I urge natural management of high Lp(a), and am happy to share natural management tips below.
Natural Management of High Lp(a) Levels
Even though you may be genetically predisposed to higher levels of Lp(a), there needs to be “triggering events” with your health for high Lp(a) levels to become a problem.
Thus, I urge you to make wise lifestyle choices to avoid these triggering events. Follow my list of 15 simple habits that lead to great health.
Hormone replacement therapy in women has proven effective for lowering Lp(a), but I typically do not promote hormone replacement, only as a last resort. Time-release niacin lowers Lp(a) by 20-30%. N-acetyl cysteine, vitamin C, and L-carnitine also have promising data.
Coffee has some interesting effects on Lp(a). A recent review found that 6 of 9 studies on coffee and Lp(a) saw a reduction in levels. 2 of the 9 showed no effect. 1 study found an increase (2). If you drink coffee, make it organic. Learn more about coffee here.
Because of the increased clotting risk associated with Lp(a), it is my personal recommendation to use Flow along with marine omega 3 oils, mixed tocopherol vitamin E, and garlic. EDTA may also help with blood flow and clotting.
The risks of Lp(a) are real. Book have been written on the subject. I hope you learned from my article.
I believe the most important take home point is to live your healthiest life if you have this risk factor. Of course, the best advice to ALL, is to live your best life.