Lipoprotein (a) Most Popular

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Also known as: Lipoprotein A, Lp (a), Lp(a)

Lipoprotein (A)

Lipoprotein-a, or Lp(a) are molecules made of proteins and fat. They carry cholesterol and similar substances through the blood. A high level of Lp(a) is considered a risk factor for heart disease. High levels of lipoproteins can increase the risk of heart disease. The test is done to check your risk of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack.
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The Lipoprotein (a) test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Lipoprotein (a) test, also known as Lp(a) test, is a laboratory test that measures the level of lipoprotein (a) in the blood. Lipoprotein (a) is a specific type of lipoprotein particle that consists of a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle attached to a unique protein called apolipoprotein (a).

Also Known As: Lipoprotein A Test, lipoprotein little a Test, lpa test, lp(a) test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Lipoprotein (a) test ordered?

A Lipoprotein (a) test may be ordered in the following situations:

  1. Cardiovascular Risk Assessment: The test is often ordered as part of a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment, especially in individuals with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease or with other risk factors such as high cholesterol levels, hypertension, or diabetes.

  2. Evaluation of Atherosclerotic Risk: Lipoprotein (a) has been associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaques in the arteries. The test helps identify individuals who may have a higher predisposition to developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary artery disease (CAD) or stroke.

  3. Monitoring Lipoprotein (a) Levels: Individuals with elevated baseline levels of lipoprotein (a) may require regular monitoring to assess the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing cardiovascular risk, such as lifestyle modifications or medication therapies.

What does a Lipoprotein (a) blood test check for?

Lipoprotein (a), often known as Lp(a), is a lipoprotein that transports cholesterol through the bloodstream. It has a single apolipoprotein B protein, as well as cholesterol and other lipids, and is similar to low-density lipoprotein. This test evaluates a person's risk of getting cardiovascular disease by measuring the amount of Lp(a) in their blood.

Lp(a) is a risk factor for CVD, same as LDL. A person's level of Lp(a) is genetically determined and remains generally stable throughout their lives. Because a high level of Lp(a) is expected to contribute to a person's overall risk of CVD, this test could be useful as a CVD risk marker.

The protein portion of Lipoprotein (a) is made up of the following components:

  • Apolipoprotein B, a lipid-metabolizing protein that is the major protein ingredient of lipoproteins like LDL and VLDL
  • Apo (a), a second protein that is connected to Apo B. Apolipoprotein(a) is a protein with a unique structure that is considered to prevent clots from breaking down naturally. The apolipoprotein(a) portion of Lp(a) varies in size from person to person, with Caucasians having a smaller apolipoprotein(a) portion than those of African heritage. Although the importance of size variation in contributing to CVD risk is debatable, there is some evidence that smaller size increases risk. However, most Lipoprotein(a) assays don’t assess the size of Apo(a). Only Lipoprotein(a) levels in the blood are measured and reported.

Because roughly half of those who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels, scientists have looked for additional factors that may impact heart disease. Lp(a) is assumed to be one of these factors. Lp(a) has two possible contributions. For starters, because Lp(a) can stimulate the uptake of LDL into blood channel walls, it may aid in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque on blood vessel walls. Second, because apo(a) has a structure that inhibits clot-dissolving enzymes, Lp(a) may enhance clot buildup in the arteries. Lp(a) may be more atherogenic than LDL for these reasons.

Lab tests often ordered with a Lipoprotein (a) test:

When an Lp(a) test is ordered, it's often part of a broader assessment of cardiovascular risk. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Lipid Panel:

    • Purpose: Measures total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To provide a basic overview of lipid levels and assess the overall risk of cardiovascular disease. The standard lipid panel helps guide treatment decisions.
  2. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP):

    • Purpose: A marker of inflammation in the body, with high sensitivity.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Inflammation plays a significant role in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Elevated hs-CRP levels are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  3. Apolipoprotein B (ApoB):

    • Purpose: ApoB is the primary protein component of LDL and VLDL particles.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess the number of atherogenic particles, as each LDL and VLDL particle contains one ApoB molecule. ApoB levels can provide additional insight into cardiovascular risk.
  4. Fasting Blood Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c):

    • Purpose: Measures blood sugar control and risk of diabetes.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and these tests help identify blood sugar control issues.
  5. Homocysteine:

    • Purpose: Measures the level of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with heart disease and stroke.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Elevated homocysteine levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular events and may be influenced by dietary factors.
  6. Thyroid Function Tests (TSH, Free T3, Free T4):

    • Purpose: To assess thyroid function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Thyroid hormones can influence lipid metabolism and overall cardiovascular health.
  7. Kidney Function Test:

    • Purpose: To evaluate kidney function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Kidney disease can impact cardiovascular health and lipid metabolism.

These tests, when ordered alongside an Lp(a) test, provide a comprehensive view of an individual’s cardiovascular risk profile. They are essential for identifying and managing risk factors for heart disease and stroke, particularly in individuals with elevated Lp(a) or a family history of early cardiovascular disease. The selection of these tests will depend on the individual's health status, family history, and other risk factors.

Conditions where a Lipoprotein (a) test is recommended:

A Lipoprotein (a) test may be required in the following conditions or diseases:

  1. Family History of Premature Cardiovascular Disease: Individuals with a family history of premature cardiovascular diseases, particularly if there is a known history of elevated lipoprotein (a) levels, may require testing to assess their cardiovascular risk.

  2. Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Diseases: Patients with established atherosclerosis or those at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases may undergo the Lipoprotein (a) test to further assess their risk profile and guide treatment decisions.

How does my healthcare provider use a Lipoprotein (a) test?

Health care providers use the results of a Lipoprotein (a) test to:

  1. Risk Stratification: Elevated lipoprotein (a) levels, especially when combined with other cardiovascular risk factors, may indicate an increased risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. Health care providers use this information to stratify patients into appropriate risk categories and develop personalized prevention and treatment strategies.

  2. Treatment Decision-Making: The Lipoprotein (a) test results, along with other lipid parameters and risk factors, help guide treatment decisions. If lipoprotein (a) levels are high and the patient has additional risk factors, more aggressive interventions such as lifestyle modifications and lipid-lowering medications may be recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

  3. Monitoring Treatment Response: Serial measurements of lipoprotein (a) levels allow health care providers to monitor the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing lipoprotein (a) levels and modifying the overall cardiovascular risk profile. This helps in evaluating treatment response and making necessary adjustments to optimize patient outcomes.

It's important to note that the interpretation of Lipoprotein (a) test results should be done in conjunction with other clinical information and individual risk factors to make informed decisions regarding cardiovascular risk assessment, prevention, and treatment strategies.

What does my Lipoprotein (a) test result mean?

A high Lp(a) level raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and cerebral vascular disease. People with a normal lipid profile can develop high Lp(a). Lp(a) levels that are high are thought to increase the risk of heart disease independently of other lipids.

Lp(a) levels are genetically set and are difficult to adjust with lifestyle modifications or medicines. However, some non-genetic diseases can result in an increase in Lp (a). Estrogen depletion, hypercholesterolemia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, chronic renal failure, and nephrotic syndrome are examples of these conditions.

Most Common Questions About the Lipoprotein (a) test:

Understanding the Lipoprotein (a) Test and Its Purpose

What is the Lipoprotein (a) test?

The Lipoprotein (a) test measures the amount of Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a), in your blood. Lp(a) is a type of lipoprotein, a molecule made up of proteins and lipids. It carries cholesterol and similar substances through the blood.

Why is the Lipoprotein (a) test done?

The Lipoprotein (a) test is done to determine if a person has an elevated level of Lp(a), which can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.

Who should get the Lipoprotein (a) test?

The Lipoprotein (a) test is recommended for individuals with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol, despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having no other known risk factors.

Interpreting Test Results and Abnormal Findings

How are Lipoprotein (a) test results interpreted?

Results interpretation can vary depending on the lab, but generally, levels of Lp(a) less than 30 mg/dL are considered normal, while levels above this may be associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

What do high levels of Lipoprotein (a) mean?

High levels of Lipoprotein (a) are a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is because Lp(a) can contribute to the buildup of plaques in arteries, leading to conditions such as atherosclerosis.

What do low levels of Lipoprotein (a) mean?

Low levels of Lp(a) are generally not a cause for concern and suggest a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Understanding the Implications and Health Impact

What role does Lipoprotein (a) play in the body?

Lp(a) carries cholesterol and other lipids in the bloodstream. However, it's not entirely clear what its specific function is. High levels of Lp(a) are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

What health conditions can be associated with abnormal Lipoprotein (a) levels?

Abnormal levels of Lipoprotein (a) can be associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

What might cause elevated Lipoprotein (a) levels?

Elevated Lp(a) levels are largely determined by genetics. Some medical conditions, like kidney disease, can also raise Lp(a) levels.

Risk Factors, Prevention, and Treatment

Can I influence my Lipoprotein (a) levels?

Since Lp(a) levels are largely genetic, they're not significantly influenced by lifestyle changes like diet or exercise. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is still important for overall heart health.

Can medication help in lowering high Lipoprotein (a) levels?

Some cholesterol-lowering medications may help lower Lp(a) levels, but their effectiveness varies between individuals.

If I have high Lipoprotein (a) levels, what steps can I take to protect my heart health?

While you may not be able to significantly lower your Lp(a) levels, you can take steps to reduce your overall risk of heart disease. This includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, not smoking, controlling blood pressure and diabetes if they exist, and potentially taking medication as advised by your healthcare provider.

How does Lipoprotein (a) relate to other lipid tests?

While a lipid panel gives an overview of cholesterol levels in the body (HDL, LDL, triglycerides, total cholesterol), the Lp(a) test is a more specific test that looks at the level of one particular type of cholesterol-carrying protein.

Are there any future potential treatments for high Lipoprotein (a) levels?

Several drugs specifically targeting Lp(a) are currently in development. These potential treatments, currently in clinical trials, aim to lower Lp(a) levels and, hopefully, reduce the associated risk of heart disease.

How often should I get a Lipoprotein (a) test?

For individuals with known high Lp(a) levels or those at high risk due to family history, your healthcare provider will determine how often you should get tested based on your individual risk profile.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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