LDL ’S Evil Twin: The ‘Other’ Bad Cholesterol Level


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Every 33 seconds, a life is lost to cardiovascular disease, making it the primary cause of death for both men and women. Understanding your cholesterol level plays a crucial role in determining your risk. However, there is one aspect of cholesterol that frequently goes overlooked during screenings, and it might hold the key to identifying the potential of experiencing a heart attack at a younger age. LDL

Do you know your number?

Knowing your LDL, or bad cholesterol number, can end up saving your life.

But now, there’s another number you should know.

Pamela Rama, MD, Cardiologist at Baptist Health in Jacksonville, FL, says, “So, think of your Lp(a), pronounced “L-P-little-A” as an LDL cholesterol on steroids, more aggressive, more inflammation, more plaque formation.”

Doctor Rama says lipoprotein (a) is like LDL’s evil twin. One in five people have high blood levels of fatty particles, or Lp(a).

Doctor Rama says, “It’s very aggressive and the people who probably have it are the ones who have heart attacks at a young age.”

High levels can triple a person’s risk of heart attack and increase your risk of stroke. You’re born with your Lp(a) level, and the number never changes, unless a new drug is released that will control it.

Doctor Rama says, “If you have it, there’s a 50% chance that you will pass it on to your children.”

Unlike LDL, statins don’t work in changing it. But there are now drugs in clinical trials that may have an impact down the road.

Doctor Rama says, “The PCSK9 inhibitors seem to reduce your Lp(a) by around 25%. There are others that are coming up that can reduce it up to 90%.”

Now the question is … if doctors do find a way to reduce the Lp(a) level, will it also reduce the risk of a heart attack?  We’ll have to wait for the research to find out.

A person only needs their Lp(a) level checked once in their lifetime as they do not change. Testing for Lp(a) is a simple blood test and is already a part of the European Society Guidelines. Doctors are now working to make it standard practice in the US.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.



REPORT #3117

BACKGROUND: Cholesterol is a waxy substance the body needs to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. Cholesterol comes from the liver which makes all the cholesterol a body needs. The remainder of the cholesterol in the body comes from foods from animals like meat, poultry, and dairy products that all contain dietary cholesterol. These foods are high in saturated and trans fats that cause the liver to make more cholesterol than it otherwise would. For some people, this added production means they go from a normal cholesterol level to one that’s unhealthy. Too much cholesterol can pose a problem. Cholesterol circulates in the blood and as the amount increases, so does the risk to your health. High cholesterol contributes to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. This is why it’s important to have cholesterol levels checked.

(Source: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol)

TYPES OF CHOLESTEROL: Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins”. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of the body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, sometimes called “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol in the blood and carries it back to the liver where it flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called “plaque,” and can cause health problems. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL and/or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for health problems.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm)

FIRST ORAL TREATMEMT FOR CHOLESTEROL: A new drug offers a breakthrough treatment for Lipoprotein(a), a largely genetic form of cholesterol that increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. A trial for this treatment, led by Professor Stephen Nicholls, Director of the Monash University’s Victorian Heart Institute and Victorian Heart Hospital, demonstrated the success of Muvalaplin, the first oral drug ever developed to target Lp(a), effectively lowering levels by up to 65 percent. It works by disrupting the ability for Lp(a) to form in the body. Lp(a) is similar to LDL cholesterol, sometimes called ‘bad cholesterol’, but is stickier, increasing risk of blockages and blood clots in arteries. Professor Nicholls said, “This drug is a gamechanger in more ways than one. Not only do we have an option for lowering an elusive form of cholesterol, but being able to deliver it in an oral tablet means it will be more accessible for patients.”

(Source: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230828/First-oral-treatment-for-Lipoprotein(a)-shows-significant-cholesterol-reduction.aspx)

MORE FROM PAMELA RAMA, MD, CARDIOLOGIST AT BAPTIST HEALTH IN JACKSONVILLE, FL: “The normal Lp(a) varies depending on the unit the lab uses. Generally, a Lp(a) > 50mg/dl or > 125 nmol/L is considered elevated. One patient, who was around 50 years old and exercised all the time, had over 500nmol/L. They had a sibling who had a heart attack at a young age and the patient already had evidence of coronary artery disease.”

* For More Information, Contact:

Emily Sharpe


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