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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Researchers Focus on New Type of Cholesterol

Most of us have heard of "good" and "bad" cholesterol. One type (HDL) promotes heart health, while the other (LDL) can contribute to heart disease. It's part of a routine cholesterol screening to test HDL and LDL levels, and we normally offer both at our health fairs.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, another form of cholesterol--lipoprotein (a)--can also cause problems. 45,000 men and women participated in the study, and those with the highest levels of lipoprotein (a) had the most heart attacks.

Statin drugs, taken by millions of people to lower cholesterol, do not affect lipoprotein (a) levels. Researchers say that may explain why statins don't always work for everyone.

Time will tell whether this new type of cholesterol is significant enough to be included in routine screenings. Because lipoprotein (a) levels are believed to be largely based on genetics, researchers hope that drug companies will soon begin to develop medications to control them.

2 comments:

Jack Glode,M.D. said...

We have known about lipoprotein (a) for a long time. There is a medication that affects lipoprotein (a). Niacin.

Fiona Gathright said...

Thanks for the comment--it's much appreciated.

The article mentions Niacin, but also that it can cause uncomfortable flushing as a side effect. My understanding from reading the article is that researchers hope to develop medication that can lower lipoprotein (a) without the unwanted side effects.