By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Lipoprotein(a) is a type of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which at high levels circulating in the blood put an individual at an increased risk for heart disease. Lipoprotein(a), chemically, has an additional apolipoprotein(a) attached to the molecule, which normally has its beneficial effects on the body via wound healing and reduced bleeding.
However, when levels exceed the normative ranges, lipoprotein(a) places an individual, male or female, at a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease.
Lipoprotein (a) is genetic
The interesting fact about lipoprotein(a) is that it is genetic, to a certain extent. This means that otherwise normal, healthy adults can have elevated levels of lipoprotein(a), despite healthy diets and exercise.
Secondly, lipoprotein(a) can be measured via a simple blood test, but it is not part of a normal blood test conducted on an annual checkup by your physician.
More often than not, a patient must request lipoprotein(a) to be measured as part of the blood screening, or else the lipid profile measured will only consist of standard LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Cardiorespiratory exercise can impact lipoprotein (a) levels
Despite the genetic predisposition, there is hope in combating this shortcoming. The answer is cardiorespiratory exercise! That is right, high levels (greater than 45 minutes daily) of cardiorespiratory exercise significantly impact lipoprotein(a) levels, along with reduced sugar intake and a balanced diet.
The combination of reducing sugar and high levels of exercise can have a robust effect on your health by reducing body inflammation and improving vascular function.
I want to make three recommendations:
- Ask your physician to measure lipoprotein(a)
- Avoid added sugar in foods and drinks
- Do ample amounts of cardiorespiratory exercise to become the most aerobically fit person you can be.
Bennet, Anna, et al. “Lipoprotein (a) levels and risk of future coronary heart disease: large-scale prospective data.” Archives of internal medicine 168.6 (2008): 598-608.
Bonetti, A., et al. “Lipoprotein (a) and exercise.” The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness 35.2 (1995): 131-135.
Durstine, J. Larry, et al. “Blood lipid and lipoprotein adaptations to exercise.” Sports medicine 31.15 (2001): 1033-1062.
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