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This Blood Fat May Raise Heart Attack Risk

A recent analysis of three separate studies that included over 40,000 participants found that high levels of a type of blood fat called lipoprotein(a) (LPA) may seriously increase the risk of heart attack.

The study was published in the June, 2009 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

LPA is a lipoprotein subclass which is made up of a molecule of LDL (bad) cholesterol attached to a number of units of protein. High LPA levels are linked to genetic makeup and are only slightly affected by diet and exercise.

Danish researchers at Copenhagen University have been studying the link between LPA and heart disease since 1976. The recent report was the culmination of their research and it included studies with follow up periods of up to 16 years.

The researchers found that people with the highest LPA levels (top 10th percentile) have a two to threefold increased risk of heart attack.

They also note that further studies are needed to determine if drugs meant to lower LPA are in fact an effective means of lowering the risk of heart attack.

In addition, all of the participants in the recent report were white so further studies will need to include a more diverse population in order to determine the effect of high LPA levels in ethnic populations.

The researchers hope that these findings will encourage the development of effective LPA lowering medications.

New drugs aimed at lowering LPA cholesterol may help people who develop heart attacks despite statin treatments. While statin drugs target other forms of bad cholesterol they have no effect on LPA cholesterol. Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3, is believed to reduce LPA levels.

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