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Little-Known Fat Can Be a Heartbreaker
Date:10/10/2008

Elevated lipoprotein (a) levels boost cardiovascular disease risk for some,,,,

FRIDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- If you're worried about reducing your risk of heart disease, you probably already know that you should quit smoking, eat a healthful diet, exercise regularly, keep your blood pressure in check, and make sure your cholesterol levels aren't too high.

But, do you know what your lipoprotein (a) levels are?

Well, if you don't have a family history of early heart disease or have unexplained heart disease yourself, you probably don't need to know how much lipoprotein (a) is lurking in your blood.

But, if any males in your family had a heart attack before age 55 or any of the women had heart disease before 65, you should have your lipoprotein levels checked. Ditto if you have heart disease, and you don't have any of the usual risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

"Lipoprotein (a) tests give us interesting information, but it's still not a first line test for heart disease risk," explained Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of the NYU Langone Medical Center's Women's Heart Program in New York City.

Lipoprotein (a) is a molecule that circulates in the blood that's very similar to LDL -- the bad -- cholesterol, and is also similar to a blood-clotting protein. "It's the worst of both worlds," said Goldberg.

Lipoproteins carry fat through the blood. Sometimes those fats are used for important functions, such as producing cell membranes. But, if you have too much lipoproteins in your blood, those fats can start collecting on your artery walls, eventually choking them off.

Lipoprotein (a) became more well known after a 2006 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that women who had the highest levels of lipoprotein (a) -- above 65 milligrams per deciliter of blood -- had a 67 percent higher risk of heart disease or s
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