Here are answers to some of the most common questions related to testing for Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a).
Should I get my Lipoprotein(a) levels tested?
You should have your Lp(a) levels tested if you fall under any of the following categories:
- You have familial hypercholesterolemia (FH)
- You have a personal history of vascular disease
- You have a family history of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks or strokes for men under age 55 or women under 65
Should I get my child’s Lp(a) levels tested?
A doctor may recommend having a child’s Lp(a) levels measured in cases of:
- A personal history of ischemic stroke
- Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH)
- A family history premature vascular disease or elevated Lp(a)
What if none of these categories apply?
20% of the world’s population has elevated levels of Lp(a). Except in rare, exceptional cases, these levels are consistent from age 5 onward.
Some experts recommend that everyone should be tested. Others disagree, citing the lack of available treatments for lowering Lp(a).
We encourage you to get your Lp(a) levels tested at least once in a lifetime, especially if you have reason to believe they may be elevated.
Do I need to get my Lp(a) tested regularly?
No. The amount of Lp(a) your body produces is determined by the genes you received at birth and remains stable throughout your lifetime, with rare exceptions:
- Menopause can increase Lp(a); it is recommended women have a second Lp(a) test after menopause.
- Acute illness can cause your Lp(a) to increase — therefore, it’s probably best not to measure Lp(a) during an acute illness.
Are there treatments available that can lower levels of Lp(a)?
The only approved treatment for Lp(a) reduction is lipoprotein apheresis (see below):
In the future there may be medications specifically for lowering Lp(a). These medications are currently in clinical trials – follow the Lp(a) Association blog for updates, or visit our Clinical Trials page to see how you can get involved.
What is a high Lp(a) test result?
An Lp(a) level greater than 50 mg/dL (125 nmol/L), is considered high and may an increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
My Lp(a) is high. Now what?
Your doctor will discuss the right plan for you.
The only currently approved treatment for Lp(a) is lipoprotein apheresis. This therapy is only approved for those with:
- Familial hypercholesterolemia with persistently elevated LDL-C, and/or
- Known vascular disease who have an Lp(a) > 60mg/dL.
Managing other cardiac risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, and smoking, and other lifestyle factors, can help reduce your heart disease risk.
If I have elevated levels of Lp(a), should I have my family screened as well?
Yes. Since Lp(a) is inherited, you will want to discuss having your family members – parents, siblings, children, aunts and uncles – screened as well.
My Lp(a) went up? What’s wrong?
First, check to see how your Lp(a) levels are being measured. Lp(a) can be measured in mg/dL and nmol/L. You may need to convert your results (find out more here).
In addition, as mentioned above, both menopause and acute illness can increase your Lp(a).