Recent studies have revealed that increased levels of lipoprotein(a)are linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular events in healthy women according to Boston-based investigators.
The researchers do not however recommend generalized screening of lipoprotein(a) in the population as a whole, because only extremely high levels were associated with cardiovascular risk. Besides that most lipid-correcting therapies currently available have no effect on lipoprotein(a) concentrations.
Rather the researchers recommend high-risk individuals with elevated levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol to be treated with a statin or with niacin, when lipoprotein(a) levels are also high.
According to Dr. Jacqueline Suk Danik of Brigham and Women's Hospital and her colleagues although lipoprotein(a) has been linked with heart disease its relevance as a biomarker has not been established yet, partly because of its variability in assays.
The aim of this study was to clear up the doubts surrounding the relevance of lipoprotein by using a new assay, validated and supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The study evaluated 27,791 initially healthy participants in the Women's Health Study. The women enrolled in WHS were at least 45 years old between 1991 and 1995 and were followed for 10 years.
Lipoprotein concentrations were analyzed from blood samples obtained at baseline and stored in liquid nitrogen.
During the 10 year long follow up, 899 women suffered a nonfatal stroke, nonfatal heart attack, underwent coronary revascularization or died of a cardiac cause.
Analyses of the data revealed that women in the top 90th percentile of lipoprotein(a) levels (about 65.5 mg/dL) had an increased risk of suffering a first-time cardiac event, when compared to women with lower concentrations, independent of other common cardiac risk markers.
The highest rates of cardiac events occurred in women with lipoprotein(a) levels at or above the 90th percentile plus LDL cholesterol levels which are at or above the median.