You know that friend, family member, or co-worker who always seems to be trouble? You can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about them that makes the sun all of a sudden hide behind the clouds or guarantees a tightly knitted plan will crumble to pieces. But it’s there. That’s kind of like lipoprotein(a). We don’t know exactly what it does, but we know that high levels are correlated with heart disease. Just like that friend/cousin/co-worker, we have seen enough of the outcome to know it means trouble.
However, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that we’re completely baffled by the role of the indicator. It’s structure is similar to low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol), which breaks down blood clots. Only lipoprotein(a) doesn’t break down blood clots. The body is full of feedback mechanisms to keep everything in check, and this look-alike can interfere with that. When high lipoprotein(a) levels are detected, the body may think that it’s actually LDL levels that are high, blood clots are being broken down, and that more blood clotting is needed to keep a healthy balance. Blood clotting in the wrong place (like arteries) can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
In the past week or so, our Medical Director Doctor Murdoc Khaleghi has walked us through the lipid panel of WellnessFX Baseline. Certainly two types of cholesterol and apolipoprotein B should be enough to paint a telling picture of an individual’s cardiovascular health, right? While those are very important indicators, they can have narrow ranges and unclear cut-off points for healthy versus unhealthy. In contrast, the lipoprotein(a) test has a broad range and can give a clearer perspective of cardiovascular health. When it comes to knowledge about your health, less is never more.