A little-known factor that boosts heart attack risk

About one in five people has high levels of lipoprotein(a), a fatty particle linked to premature heart disease.

Published: March, 2021

Most people probably haven't heard of lipoprotein(a), although that's not surprising. Cardiologists have known for years that having high levels of these fatty particles circulating in the bloodstream poses a risk to the cardiovascular system. But there wasn't much they could offer in terms of therapy, so widespread testing for lipoprotein(a) — also known as Lp(a) — didn't make sense.

Recent progress means the landscape may soon be shifting. Earlier research showed that injectable cholesterol-lowering drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors, such as evolocumab (Repatha) or alirocumab (Praluent), may lower Lp(a) by up to 25%. Until last year, however, it wasn't clear whether that reduction actually helped people with high Lp(a).

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