lipoprotien(a) banner

What is Lipoprotein(a)?

You’ll often see Lipoprotein(a) referred to as Lp(a), pronounced “L-P-little-A.”

It is an important genetic factor that increases the risk for both heart disease and stroke. Much like low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, Lp(a) carries cholesterol in the blood.

Lipoprotein(a) illustration
lipoprotein(a) lp(a) and heart disease

What does it mean to have high Lp(a)?

The first thing to know is that Lp(a) levels are genetically determined. You inherited your Lp(a) levels, and they are completely unrelated to diet and lifestyle choices.

You can find out your Lp(a) levels with a simple blood test.

If your Lp(a) level is greater than 125 nmol/L (50 mg/dL), you have high Lp(a).

Note: Unlike the measurement of LDL, the measurement of Lp(a) is not yet completely standardized, so there is more than one way to report Lp(a) levels. When you review your Lp(a) test results with your healthcare provider, you should take note of which method of measurement is used: mg/dL, mg/L, or nmol/L. If your Lp(a) was measured in mg/L you can easily convert to mg/dL by dividing your Lp(a) value by ten (1000 mg/L ÷ 10 = 100 mg/dL).

If you have high Lp(a), this is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High levels of Lp(a) collect in your arteries, gradually narrowing them and limiting blood supply to the heart, brain, kidney, and legs.

How do genetics play a role in Lp(a)?

The amount of Lp(a) in your body is determined by the genes you received at birth from your parents.

Lp(a) reaches its adult level by around age 5 and remains stable thereafter — except during acute illness and menopause, which can both cause Lp(a) to increase. Lp(a) levels are completely unrelated to your lifestyle.

Do different ethnicities have different Lp(a) levels?

High Lp(a) occurs in all ethnicities, but it seems to be more common in Black and South Asian individuals than in white, Hispanic, or East Asian individuals.

More research and improved testing methods are needed to better understand the influence of race and ethnicity on Lp(a).

Visit Care Navigation

Find help getting the care you deserve

Navigating health care today can be frustrating and difficult. The Family Heart Foundation can help you navigate your journey FH. Experts at the Care Navigation Center are ready to answer all your questions.

treating high lipoprotein(a)

Diagnosing High Lipoprotein(a)

High Lp(a) can be diagnosed with a simple test and family history.

lipoprotein(a) apheresis

Treating High Lp(a)

Knowledge is power. Learn about current treatments and new hope for the future.

Lp(a) Discussion Group

Connect With Others

Many people know what it’s like to live with high Lp(a) – and they’re eager to help you.