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Understanding Lipoprotein (a) and Your Heart

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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. lp(a)

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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Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.