Sandra Revill Tremulis was a healthy, fit woman who had a heart attack at the age of 39 despite an apparent lack of any cardiac risk factors. She’d never smoked, had a healthy diet, normal weight, normal cholesterol/blood pressure – and had run a marathon just the year before. So Sandra’s doctor ordered advanced blood tests and discovered that she had inherited a genetic abnormality that causes early heart disease. One in five people carry this gene, yet most are completely unaware that they do.
It’s called high Lipoprotein(a) – Lp(a) or “Lipoprotein little a”- and the gene was passed on to Sandra from her Dad, who had died at age 50 of a massive heart attack. As high levels of Lp(a) travel through the bloodstream, it collects in the arteries, leading to gradual narrowing of the artery that can limit blood supply to the heart, brain, and kidneys as well as the legs. It can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack or stroke.
Sandra reminds us that your doctor or nurse cannot tell you have high Lp(a) just by examining you. The required diagnostic blood test is not the same as typical cardiac tests (like standard cholesterol blood tests). For many, the first sign of this condition is a heart attack or stroke.
Q: Do you or somebody you know live with Lipoprotein(a)?
More info from the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation:
- Family Tree Worksheet– this tool may help you map out your own risk of carrying the gene for inherited High Lipoprotein(a)
- Online support community – it’s free to register for this Lipid Living Room for patients diagnosed with Lp(a)