Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other substances found in your blood. Hardening or furring of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is caused when this plaque accumulates on your artery walls.
A Lipoprotein (a) test can help identify a plaque build-up causing clogging of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other substances found in your blood. Hardening or furring of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is caused when this plaque accumulates on your artery walls. As the plaque hardens over time, your arteries become narrow, leading to restricted blood flow that can damage your organs and stop them functioning properly.
The British Heart Foundation have found that the first evidence of furring of the arteries may appear in people in their 20s and 30s, but it will often not give any noticeable warning signs for years to follow.
Assessing stroke and heart attack risks using computer programmes that grade individuals based on age, sex, ethnicity, cholesterol level, blood pressure, smoking status and family history can be very helpful. But research has shown that one in five individuals who have suffered a heart attack might not have been graded as being at high or moderate risk by the currently available computer programmes before their heart attacks occurred. Atherosclerotic plaques can develop slowly over decades, but they often lead to no symptoms until a plaque suddenly ruptures.
This specialist blood test measures the amount of lipoprotein (a), which is a sticky cholesterol rich protein. High levels can stick to the walls of your arteries, restricting blood flow. Moreover, an expert review published in the American Journal of Cardiology concluded that neither exercise heart testing on a treadmill nor most X-ray/ultrasound techniques will identify individuals at high risk for atherosclerotic plaque rupture. That’s where the Lipoprotein (a) test comes in, although it’s important to remember this test is not diagnostic of CHD or ischaemic stroke; it is a risk indicator. Some people with increased concentrations of Lipoprotein (a) will not develop these conditions – likewise, others with normal levels will. The Lipoprotein (a) test should always be used in addition to measuring and assessing traditional risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose.
If your Lipoprotein (a) levels are raised, it is advisable to take a close look at your risk factors for heart disease and stroke. These include raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity, inactivity, stress, poor diet and excessive alcohol intake.
The best way to respond to raised Lipoprotein (a) levels is to adjust your lifestyle, dietary and exercise habits to lower your risk. If you are a smoker, quitting is the single most beneficial step to take. It is also important to ensure you are a healthy weight for your height, eat a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, restrict your alcohol consumption and aim to exercise for at least two and a half hours per week.
All our tests have been specially designed to be convenient and non-invasive. Once you’ve booked your appointment, full preparation instructions will be provided in your confirmation email or letter. You can continue to eat and drink normally before your appointment, and you’ll also remain fully clothed throughout.