LP(a): The Best Kept Secret to Heart Health

Here’s what we’ll cover in this blog post:

  • What LP(a) is
  • How it affects heart health
  • How it affects longevity
  • What we can do about our LP(a) levels

Heart disease remains the leading age-related disease in the world, affecting our lifespan and our quality of life. It limits our ability to do our jobs, play with our children, or enjoy walks in the park, and it slowly decreases our overall well-being.

Of all the critical biomarkers of heart disease, one biomarker often flies under the radar, and that biomarker is LP(a). Though some experts have called LP(a) an overlooked risk factor, it’s still one of the most significant biomarkers of heart health today.

But what is LP(a), and what makes it so critical to not only our heart health, but our overall longevity?

What Is LP(a)?

Short for lipoprotein(a), LP(a) is a unique molecule produced by the liver. LP(a) is a type of LDL particle, and part of the reason why LDL is sometimes called “bad cholesterol.” LP(a) and ApoB, the two types of LDL types, both carry plaque-forming cholesterol, which is partly why they get such a bad reputation.

What sets LP(a) apart is the addition of an apolipoprotein(a). Our bodies try to clean as much LDL from our bodies as possible, but this additional protein acts like a mask, disguising LP(a) from our cells so they’re harder to clear from our bloodstream. 

This means LP(a) is much more likely to stick around in our blood, get into blood vessel walls, and spread all that fat and cholesterol it’s carrying. 

How Does LP(a) Affect Heart Health?

When LP(a) sticks around in our bloodstream, it often leads to plaque formation, which can cause conditions like atherosclerosis – a condition caused by plaque buildup that leads to coronary artery disease. LP(a) can also activate with our body’s natural clot forming mechanisms, which may explain why LP(a) is difficult to remove from our bloodstream. 

In other words, LP(a) makes it easier for plaque to form, and harder for blood to flow. It’s this troubling combination that makes LP(a) so significant to our heart health.

Elevated LP(a) levels are linked to a higher risk of not just atherosclerosis, but also heart attack, stroke, and a host of other cardiovascular diseases. In fact, our LP(a) levels can often predict our risk for heart disease better than our LDL, HDL, or total cholesterol levels.

LP(a) has increasingly been recognized as an important predictor of heart disease, especially when there are no other clear signs of heart disease. Though LP(a) alone doesn’t give a complete picture of our heart health, it can still increase our risk for heart disease by more than 50%

Longevity means living at optimal health for as long as possible, and pushing off age-related disease until the very smallest fraction of our lives. In other words, longevity isn’t only about our lifespan, but also our healthspan. 

Heart disease greatly decreases both our lifespan and our healthspan, causing us to live in less-than-optimal health for longer. Because LP(a) is so critical to heart disease, it’s also critical to our healthspan and longevity. 

What Can I Do About My LP(a) Levels?

The best thing to do is to seek early testing for your LP(a) levels. Reducing your LP(a) levels requires a tailored approach from your healthcare provider, so detecting high LP(a) levels before symptoms develop is key to lowering your risk. Comprehensive tests like the Core Longevity Panel are a great way to accurately measure not just your heart biomarkers, but your diabetes and inflammation markers as well. 

Testing your LP(a), ApoB, LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides all at once gives you a full picture of your heart health so you have the best chance of early detection. Measuring your glucose, insulin, and hs-CRP also gives you a more complete look into your risk for age-related disease, allowing you to take proactive steps to improve your healthspan.

When it comes to heart disease, early detection is always key. This is especially true for LP(a), as diet and lifestyle changes might not lower our LP(a) levels. But that doesn’t mean that your heart health isn’t in your control. It just means you need the right tools to help you keep your risk low.  

Keep in mind that our LP(a) doesn’t solely determine our heart health, and our heart health is only one aspect of our longevity. Treating our heart health holistically and considering all our heart biomarkers, along with the major hallmarks of aging, is the best approach to gaining as many healthy years as possible. We should still follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, and keep science-backed solutions in our toolkit to address all our potential risk factors.

Note: The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.