Raising awareness of elevated Lipoprotein(a)

Understand Your Risk for Family Heart Disease

This March, our Founder and Chief Executive Officer Katherine Wilemon and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McGowan embarked on a nationwide series of 33 TV and radio interviews to discuss a silent, undetected cause of cardiovascular disease: elevated Lipoprotein(a).

They wanted to get the word out across the United States that March 24 is the first-ever Lipoprotein(a) Awareness Day. One in 5 people worldwide have high Lipoprotein(a) – sometimes referred to as “L-P-little A” or Lp(a) – an important genetic risk factor for premature heart disease and stroke. If you have a family history of early heart disease or have been told that heart disease “runs in your family,” but you’ve never been told why, it’s important to know if you have high Lp(a).

Hidden causes of early cardiovascular disease like genetic disorders are very common, but almost never diagnosed. Elevated levels of Lp(a) increase the risk of inflammation, blood clotting and clogging — or plaque buildup — inside your blood vessels, which can block the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.


Almost everyone gets tested for high cholesterol, but in the U.S. fewer than 1% are screened for Lp(a).


Almost everyone gets tested for high cholesterol, but in the U.S. fewer than 1% are screened for Lp(a). An Lp(a) measurement is not part of a standard cholesterol test. An Lp(a) test measures the level of Lipoprotein(a) in your blood, and your doctor needs to order it directly.

Lp(a) is one of two inherited disorders that caused Katherine’s heart attack at the age of 39 (the other genetic disorder is Familial Hypercholesterolemia). Like so many others, it took years for Katherine to get the right diagnosis for what caused her heart attack. She realized that prevention begins with understanding your risk for inherited heart conditions and then managing that risk throughout your lifetime. She resolved to bridge this enormous gap in screening, diagnosis, and treatment because with early diagnosis and risk management, individuals can live decades longer.

The Family Heart Foundation wants to help those at risk get the information they need to protect themselves and their families against this invisible cause of early heart disease. To help do that, we established the first annual Lipoprotein(a) Awareness Day on March 24 to raise awareness worldwide of high Lp(a). With Lp(a) Awareness Day, the Family Heart Foundation wants to reach more people who know that early heart disease and strokes run in their family but who’ve never been told why. The Foundation is urging everyone to understand their own risk for cardiovascular disease. One important step is to get a simple blood test for Lp(a).

By sharing information about Lp(a) we can save lives and change the future for millions of families. For more information, visit MoreFamiliesMoreHearts.org.

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