What is a lipoprotein (a) blood test?
A lipoprotein (a) test measures the level of lipoprotein (a) in your blood. Lipoproteins are substances made of protein and fat that carry cholesterol through your bloodstream. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
Lipoprotein (a) is a type of LDL (bad) cholesterol. A high level of lipoprotein (a) may mean you are at risk for heart disease.
Other names: cholesterol Lp(a), Lp(a)
What is it used for?
A lipoprotein (a) test is used to check for risk of stroke, heart attack, or other heart diseases. It is not a routine test. It is usually only given to people who have certain risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease.
Why do I need a lipoprotein (a) test?
You may need this test if you have:
- Heart disease, despite normal results on other lipid tests
- High cholesterol, despite maintaining a healthy diet
- A family history of heart disease, especially heart disease that has occurred at an early age and/or sudden deaths from heart disease
What happens during a lipoprotein (a) test?
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?
You don’t need any special preparations for a lipoprotein (a) test. If your health care provider has ordered other tests, such as a cholesterol test, you may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 9 to 12 hours before your blood is drawn. Your health care provider will let you know if there are any special instructions to follow.
Are there any risks to the test?
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may experience slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
What do the results mean?
A high lipoprotein (a) level may mean you are at risk for heart disease. There are no specific treatments to lower lipoprotein (a). Your level of lipoprotein (a) is determined by your genes and is not affected by your lifestyle or by most medicines. But if your test results show a high level of lipoprotein (a), your health care provider may make recommendations to reduce other risk factors that can lead to heart disease. These may include medicines or lifestyle changes such as:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Weight Control
- Quitting smoking
- Getting regular exercise
- Reducing stress
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing LDL cholesterol
Is there anything else I need to know about a lipoprotein (a) test?
Certain situations and factors can affect your test results. You should not get a lipoprotein (a) test if you have any of these conditions:
- Recent and considerable weight loss