Cholesterol Lp(a), Lp(a)
This test measures the level of lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), in your blood.
Lipoproteins are made of protein and fat. They carry cholesterol through your blood. Lp(a) is a type of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is known as "bad" cholesterol. High levels of Lp(a) can create plaque in your blood vessels. This is a buildup of cholesterol that lessens blood flow through your arteries. A high level of Lp(a) can be a sign of cholesterol-related disease, such as coronary artery disease. Research has found it to be an independent risk factor for heart disease. How that information can be used in routine medicine isn't yet well defined. It’s possible to have heart disease even if you have a normal lipid level. You can inherit an increased risk for high levels of Lp(a).
You may need this test if you have any of the below:
Symptoms of heart disease
Family history of cardiovascular disease
Heart disease despite a normal lipid level
You may need other tests to show your healthcare provider how well your heart is working. These tests may include:
Complete lipid or cholesterol profile
Electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure heart activity
Stress test to check your heart while you are exercising
Echocardiogram to show an image of your heart while it's beating
Cardiac catheterization to see if you have a clogged artery
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Results are given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In most people, Lp(a) levels do not change much over their lifetime. Levels tend to be higher in women after menopause. They tend to be slightly lower in men than women. Lp(a) levels may also vary with ethnicity. For example, African Americans often have higher levels of the protein than whites.
For most people, higher results mean greater than 30 mg/dL. If your results are high, it may mean you have high cholesterol and are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand.
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.