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Understanding Lipoprotein (a) and Your Heart

Many people go to an annual physical with a doctor each year. Weight – check. Blood pressure – check. Blood work – check. With all the boxes checked, we are (hopefully) given a clean bill of health and are on our way. Phew. All set until next year, right? Not so fast. 

Next time you visit your doctor, ask if you’ve ever had your Lp(a) levels checked. High levels of this lesser-known blood marker are one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. Knowing your Lp(a) level may save your life. 

Take our patient Bill C., for example. He had a heart attack at age 44. His father and uncle also had heart attacks in their 40s. Routine blood work performed by his doctor came back as “normal”.  When we checked his Lp(a), the levels were sky high!

What is Lipoprotein (a)?

Lipoprotein (a), also known as Lp(a), is an LDL particle subtype. Made in the liver, the LDL particle contains an apolipoprotein B molecule linked to apolipoprotein a, or apo(a). In layperson’s terms, Lp(a) is small, dense, and very inflammatory. Of all the lipid markers, Lp(a) is the most predictive for cardiovascular health. 

Unlike other lipoproteins, which are influenced by lifestyle factors, the amount of Lp(a) made by your body is inherited from your parents by the genes passed on to you when you were born. As a result, approximately 25 percent of the population has elevated Lp(a) levels. While small amounts of Lp(a) are normal, high levels dramatically increase your risk of cardiovascular problems. 

Lp(a) is a much better indicator of coronary artery disease risk than total cholesterol levels. Simply put, total cholesterol is a poor predictor of disease. So are total LDL and total HDL. 

In short, high Lp(a) levels can kill you. 

While the mechanisms by which Lp(a) leads to heart diseases are not entirely known, Lp(a) tends to stick to the arterial wall much longer than necessary, recruiting white blood cells to the area and increasing inflammation. Moreover, research shows that Lp(a) interferes with the natural clot-busting system of the body. The human body constantly makes clots and destroys them as part of the healing process. This delicate balance is disrupted by Lp(a). 

As with most things in the human body, Lp(a) has the intention of helping. However, when in abundance, the problems worsen. 

The Hazards of High Lp(a)

High Lp(a) levels are associated with increased heart attack and stroke risk. In fact, studies show that individuals with high Lp(a) levels are 70 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those with low levels. Additionally, recent studies point to Lp(a) as a risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Other hazards of high Lp(a) include an increased risk of:

  • Aortic valve damage
  • Blockages in the leg arteries (peripheral arterial disease)
  • Blood clots (thrombosis)

Normal Lp(a) Levels & Testing

Although a simple blood test can measure Lp(a), most conventional doctors do not test for Lp(a). As it’s not included in most standard cholesterol or lipid panel tests, it’s essential to work with a practitioner who understands the importance of this test. 

Lp(a) is reported in either mg/dL or nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). A reading above 30 mg/dL or 75 nmol/L is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. 

Practitioners should be fearless in testing children as well. The earlier this risk factor is detected, the easier it is to manage. If a parent has high Lp(a), their child is more likely to have the same problem. 

How to lower high Lp(a) levels 

Big Pharma pushes statins as a solution for high Lp(a) levels. Actually, studies show that statins INCREASE Lp(a). A recent meta-analysis showed that statins have very little benefit to prevent heart attacks, strokes, or death. Statins are an ineffective approach to dealing with cardiovascular disease. 

Treating high Lp(a) levels can be challenging since many individuals are genetically predisposed to elevated Lp(a). However, it’s important to remember that other “triggering events” must occur for high Lp(a) levels to become problematic. In other words, an otherwise healthy person would not be impacted by high Lp(a) levels alone. Poor diet, stress, or environmental toxin overload are a few things that can tip the scales for these individuals. 

The best way to treat high Lp(a) levels is through the Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well approach. The following actions will markedly reduce Lp(a) and its potential negative impact: 

Other potentially promising approaches to lowering Lp(a) include: 

Evidence-based supplements (see protocol at the end of the article) 

Studies show that high-dose, time-release niacin, also known as vitamin B3, may lower Lp(a) by as much as 40 percent. We recommend starting with 1 capsule of our TR-Niacin at dinner time. 

N-acetyl cysteine, vitamin C, and L-carnitine also show promise in lowering elevated Lp(a). 

Because of the increased clotting risk associated with Lp(a), it is crucial to ensure optimal circulation. Supplements such as Arterosil, Flow, Heart Beet, and Vessel Support help to promote blood flow and improve circulation. 

Finally, hormone replacement therapy in women has proven effective for lowering Lp(a). However, there are many downsides to hormone replacement, and should only be used as a last resort. 

Coffee 

Coffee has some interesting effects on Lp(a). A recent review evaluating nine studies concluded that most studies found a reduction in Lp(a) levels for coffee drinkers. However, coffee quality matters since coffee is a high source of pesticides, chemicals, and mold. Therefore, it’s best to consume only quality organic coffee, such as Cardiology Coffee.  

Flaxseed 

A few studies suggest that flaxseed may be beneficial in lowering Lp(a) levels. So while the jury is still out, sprinkling some ground flaxseed in smoothies or on your morning breakfast won’t hurt. 

Next steps

Knowledge is power when it comes to health. After all, you can’t change what you don’t know. That is why it’s essential to ask your doctor to order an Lp(a) test. 

If your doctor is unwilling or unknowledgeable in this area, consider working directly with our highly skilled medical team at Natural Heart Doctor. All of our patients who agree to labwork receive Lp(a) testing, along with multiple other vital tests that paint an accurate picture of the internal conditions of your body. 

NHD Lp(a) Protocol

  1. TR-Niacin — 1 cap with dinner
  2. Heart Beet and Vessel Support — 1 tsp of each
  3. Flow — 1 cap 2x per day away from food
  4. Arterosil — 1 cap 2x per day
  5. Daily Defense — 2 scoops per day (mix all powders together)
  6. OptiLipid — 1 cap 2x per day

Eat well, Live well, Think well

Medical Review: Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC 2022

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