Lipoprotein (a) and Your Heart Health: What Working Adults Need to Know

Learn how elevated Lipoprotein (a) levels increase heart disease risk for working adults and find ways to lower high Lp(a) to reduce health risks and optimize longevity.

As a working professional, your time and health are invaluable. While you prioritize career, family, and finances, your wellbeing is the foundation that makes achieving life's goals possible.

An important yet often overlooked risk factor is your lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a) level. High Lp(a) is a leading cause of heart disease and linked to liver disease, stroke, and other health issues that reduce longevity and quality of life.

This guide provides an overview of Lp(a), why it matters to your wellbeing, how to get tested, ideal levels to aim for, and strategies to optimize this biomarker. Knowledge is power - understand and take control of your Lp(a) to safeguard your health for years to come.

TLDR: Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) is a protein in your blood that increases heart disease risk.

  • High Lp(a) can also cause liver disease, stroke and reduce longevity.
  • Getting your Lp(a) level tested and managed is important for your health and wellbeing.
  • There are lifestyle and medication options to lower high Lp(a) and reduce health risks.

What Is Lipoprotein(a) and Why Does It Matter?

Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), is a type of lipoprotein, similar to LDL cholesterol, that circulates in your blood.

High Lp(a) levels mean you have an increased amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol bonded to a specific protein called apolipoprotein a. This makes the LDL cholesterol more prone to building up plaque in your arteries.

Over time, this plaque buildup can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which increases the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Extensive research shows that elevated Lp(a) levels are an independent risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.

How Often to Test Lipoprotein(a) as a Working Adult

For most working adults, testing your Lp(a) levels is recommended at least once in your lifetime. Some individuals may need more frequent testing, including:

  1. Those with a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or stroke. Genetics play a strong role in Lp(a) levels, so more regular screening may be prudent if close relatives have been affected.
  2. Anyone who has suffered a cardiovascular event like a heart attack. After such an event, Lp(a) testing is often done to determine or re-evaluate treatment plans. Continued follow-up testing may then be needed to monitor Lp(a) response to lifestyle changes or medication.

Mito Health's flagship package, priced at $499, offers testing for Lp(a) as well as 66 other carefully curated biomarkers that provide insight into various aspects of your health - this comprehensive suite of tests allows for early detection of cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and more.

In addition to testing, you will receive a personalized health optimization plan from our doctors incorporating supplements, nutrition, exercise and sleep strategies, and access to exclusive health and longevity events.

Even better - as a member, you get exclusive pricing (30% off market price) for an additional Coronary Artery Calcium scan, for an accurate analysis of calcified plaque in the arteries supplying your heart and a more complete picture of your risk of heart disease.

Recommended Lipoprotein(a) Levels for Optimal Health

For optimal health and longevity, the ideal lipoprotein(a) level for most adults is less than 50 nmol/L or 20 mg/dL. Studies show that lipoprotein(a) levels above this threshold are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

Lifestyle Changes to Lower Lipoprotein(A)

To effectively lower your lipoprotein(a) levels, making certain lifestyle changes is key. Focusing on diet and exercise, reducing stress, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption can significantly improve your lipoprotein(a) and overall health.

Diet

A heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol is ideal for lowering lipoprotein(a). Increase intake of foods high in fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, such as:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: Aim for 5-9 servings per day of a variety. Focus on leafy greens, broccoli, berries and citrus fruits.
  • Whole grains: Choose whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice and quinoa over refined grains.
  • Legumes: Eat more beans, lentils and peas which are high in fiber, protein and various minerals.
  • Fish: Consume fish high in omega-3s like salmon, mackerel or sardines twice a week.
  • Nuts and seeds: Enjoy a small handful of almonds, walnuts or chia seeds daily. They contain healthy fats and fiber.
  • Olive oil: Use olive oil for cooking and salad dressings. It is high in monounsaturated fats which can help lower lipoprotein(a).

Avoid or limit red meat, full-fat dairy, fried foods, sweets and sugary beverages. Losing excess weight can also help decrease lipoprotein(a) levels.

Exercise

  • Engage in at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
  • Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, biking or swimming combined with strength or resistance training is ideal.

Exercise lowers lipoprotein(a) by decreasing inflammation in the body and improving insulin sensitivity. It also promotes weight loss which can directly lower lipoprotein(a) concentrations.

Other lifestyle factors

Reducing chronic stress, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake to 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men can also help lower lipoprotein(a) and promote better health overall.

Making a combination of these long-term lifestyle changes may significantly decrease your lipoprotein(a) levels and reduce health risks over time.

Medication Options for Managing High Lipoprotein(A)

If your lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), levels are high, your doctor may recommend medication to help lower them. The goals of treatment are to reduce your Lp(a) levels and lower your risk of heart disease. The two main options for lowering Lp(a) are:

Niacin

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is one of the most effective medications for lowering Lp(a) levels. Niacin works by reducing the liver's production of apolipoprotein(a), the protein component of Lp(a) particles. Niacin can lower Lp(a) by up to 30-40% when taken at high doses of 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams per day.

However, niacin often causes side effects like flushing, itching, and liver inflammation. To minimize side effects, niacin doses are gradually titrated up over time and taken with meals.

PCSK9 Inhibitors

PCSK9 inhibitors are a newer class of injectable cholesterol-lowering drugs that can also lower Lp(a) levels. They work by blocking a protein called PCSK9 that interferes with the liver's ability to remove LDL cholesterol and Lp(a) from the blood. Studies show PCSK9 inhibitors can lower Lp(a) by up to 30%. Examples include evolocumab (Repatha) and alirocumab (Praluent), which are self-injected once every 2 to 4 weeks.

PCSK9 inhibitors tend to have few side effects but can be expensive, costing over $14,000 per year.

Supplements That May Help Reduce Lipoprotein(A)

Supplements may help support healthy lipoprotein (a) levels when combined with lifestyle changes and medication as recommended by your doctor. Some of the supplements that show promise for reducing lipoprotein (a) include:

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice is a supplement made from fermented rice that contains compounds called monacolins, which can inhibit the production of lipoprotein (a). Studies show that red yeast rice supplements may lower lipoprotein (a) levels by up to 30-40% when taken at doses of 600 to 3,000 mg twice per day.

yeast rice may cause side effects such as muscle pain, liver damage, and stomach upset in high doses or when taken long term. You should only take red yeast rice under the guidance of your physician.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil or krill oil contain EPA and DHA, which can help lower inflammation in the body and may moderately lower lipoprotein (a) levels when taken in doses of 2 to 4 grams per day.

Fish oil and krill oil supplements are considered very safe for most adults but may cause side effects like bad breath, heartburn, and nausea in high doses.

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an antioxidant found in high amounts in organ meats that may help lower lipoprotein (a) levels slightly when taken in doses of 300 to 600 mg per day. CoQ10 works by protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation and may have other benefits for heart health.

CoQ10 supplements are considered very safe but can cause insomnia, nausea, and diarrhea in high doses.

Discuss any supplements with your doctor before adding them to your treatment plan. They should be used to complement lifestyle changes and medication, not replace them. Your doctor can help determine if supplements are right and safe for you based on your individual health conditions and needs.

Conclusion

As you have learned, lipoprotein (a) is an important marker for cardiovascular health that should not be ignored, especially for busy working adults. While you may feel healthy now, high lipoprotein (a) levels put you at risk over the long term and threaten longevity. The good news is lipoprotein (a) can often be managed through lifestyle changes and medical interventions.

At Mito Health, we specialize in advanced health diagnostics to test your Lipoprotein (A) levels (along with 66 other biomarkers) - to form a science-based, personalized health plan to help you optimize your health. Sign up for our flagship package today to take control of your health and your future.

Written By
J. Hsu
December 26, 2023
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