SpectraCell Blog

Nichole Herms

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Lipoprotein(a): An Important Risk Factor for Heart Disease

Posted by Nichole Herms on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ 03:32 PM

heart apple 

Most people assume that standard cholesterol testing offers an adequate assessment of heart disease risk. If you, like many, have never heard of a lipoprotein profile test, you may be surprised to learn that this test assesses an important risk factor called Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) (“lipoprotein little a”). Influenced by genetics and strongly linked to heart disease and blood clotting problems, this risk factor unfortunately is NOT part of routine cholesterol tests or standard lipid panels. In fact, lipoprotein(a) is so strongly linked to heart disease, that it is one of the four lipid-related risk factors cited by the National Institutes of Health National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) as worthy of monitoring. Unfortunately, Lp(a) has been notoriously difficult to treat pharmacologically, as statins have shown little efficacy in lowering Lp(a) levels.

Why is Lp(a) so harmful?
Evidence suggests that Lp(a) may serve as the link between thrombosis and atherosclerosis. Recent clinical studies have implicated Lp(a) as a risk factor for blood clots whether or not atherosclerosis is present. Because Lp(a) is a small, very dense LDL, it can easily penetrate the arterial lining, become oxidized and build plaque, thus contributing to atherosclerosis independent of its thrombotic potential. 

How is high Lp(a) treated?

In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients with elevated cholesterol and elevated Lp(a) were divided into two groups, each with 29 people: Group 1 received a statin only and Group 2 received the same statin plus 2 grams/day of L-carnitine, a supplement that plays a key role in fatty acid transport within cells. After 12 weeks, the group receiving only a statin showed about a 7% reduction in Lp(a), but the group receiving the L-carnitine in conjunction with the statin demonstrated over 19% reduction in Lp(a) levels. Authors suggest that co-administration of L-carnitine (whose primary function is fatty acid metabolism), may enhance efforts to lower Lp(a) compared to using a statin alone.

Although heredity plays a large role in the levels of Lp(a), treatment with niacin has also been found to lower levels of Lp(a). 

For additional reading refer to the abstract L-Carnitine/Simvastatin Reduces Lipoprotein (a) Levels Compared with Simvastatin Monotherapy: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study published in the January 2017 issue of Lipids

Topics: lipoprotein particle profile, Heart Disease, cardiovascular disease, Lipoprotein Particles, Lipoprotein(a), L-carnitine, Lower Lipoprotein(a), High Lipoprotein(a)

Clearing up the Cholesterol Confusion – So Your Patient Can Understand It

Posted by Nichole Herms on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 03:09 PM

Heart HealthThere has been a lot of talk about cholesterol recently in the news.  This is largely due to one startling statistic to which most people are unaware: 50% of people who have heart attacks have "normal" cholesterol.  What??? Stated differently, that means that half of all heart attack victims may have had a routine cholesterol test done on the very day they had the heart attack and felt fine because their cholesterol (by routine testing standards) was "normal."  So, why do so many practitioners use a diagnostic test that is only 50% accurate?
 
The reason is simple:  that's what doctors have been using for years, decades really.  But now there is more accurate testing available.  Basically, it's an evolution of the former, out-dated cholesterol testing.  Knowing your HDL and LDL - the "good" and "bad" cholesterol is only the beginning.  SpectraCell’s LPP (Lipoprotein Particle Profile) test goes much, much further.
 
Here is the basic scenario of heart disease:  When our blood vessels are "scratched," or injured, plaque builds up in our arteries to repair the injury, sort of like a scab on the inside of  the blood vessel, causing reduced blood flow. Since plaque buildup is our bodies' response to injury of the blood vessels, reducing the injury to our arteries is key.  
 
Human HeartThat's where cholesterol comes in.  Actually, cholesterol is good.  Everyone needs it.  In fact, it protects us in many ways.  Cholesterol is actually a response to vascular injury - not the cause of it.  Cholesterol is really not the culprit.  Lipoproteins are.  Lipoproteins are what "scratch" or "burrow" into our arteries causing injury.  They are actually tiny balls in our blood that carry the cholesterol, our vascular scapegoat.  Lipoproteins are what do the damage, not the cholesterol inside them.  In fact, a lipoprotein can be almost empty of cholesterol and it can still wreak havoc on our arteries, depending on its size and characteristics.  Cholesterol is really just along for the ride.  Lipoproteins, at least the dangerous ones, are the real villain.
 
There are different sizes of lipoproteins.  In general, bigger is better.  Here's why: Larger, fluffier LDL particles cannot lodge into your arteries (which is an injury to the artery) as easily as the smaller LDL particles can.  Less injury to the artery means less plaque formation and clearer, more pliable blood vessels - a good thing.  So it is imperative to understand what kind of LDL (low density lipoproteins) you have floating around in your blood.  There are some that are extraordinarily dangerous and some that are completely benign.
 
MedicationsFor example, RLP (also called remnant lipoprotein) has been cited by the government as a very high risk factor for heart disease.  But statins, which lower LDL, will do nothing to help your RLP.  Omega 3 fatty acids effectively lower RLP.  So, if you don't know what kind of lipoproteins you have, you're shooting in the dark in terms of what treatments you should take.  
 
Here's another example:  Lp(a) - so dangerous that it is sometimes called the widowmaker - is lowered by the simple vitamin B3 (also called niacin).  Again, you may be taking statins or fish oil pills, but they won't affect Lp(a).  You can see why measuring just plain old LDL is certainly not enough.  That is why 50% of the people who have fatal heart attacks have "normal" cholesterol - they are not getting the right cholesterol/ lipoprotein test done.
 
Here's the best part:  SpectraCell's LPP test costs about the same as an outdated cholesterol test and it is also usually covered by insurance.  Why wouldn't you want an LPP done?

Topics: SpectraCell, lipoprotein particle profile, LPP, Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Lipoproteins, Heart Attack, LDL and HDL

How SpectraCell's Micronutrient Testing Cured My Eczema and Migraines

Posted by Nichole Herms on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 @ 04:38 PM

Mother of ThreeI am a 37 year old, happily married mother of three.  After the birth of my second son in 2007, I started having excruciating migraines every month. At the same time I developed horrible eczema around my eyes.  Wanting to give traditional medicine a try, I went to a dermatologist who, after barely making eye contact, gave me a prescription for a cortisone cream to use around my eyes.  But I knew this was merely treating the symptom and that the real problem was that somehow my body was "out-of-balance."

Before the birth of my 2nd son, I had no nutritional deficiencies per SpectraCell's micronutrient test (which I've had prior to each of my pregancies), but upon retesting after he was born, I learned I was deficient in zinc, which is very commonly seen in patients with skin problems.   Within a couple of  weeks of targeted supplementation, my eczema began to quickly disappear.  Within a month, it was gone. I had one migraine a couple weeks after begining to replete my zinc levels and that was the last one I've had -ever. 

It's been over 2 years now.  The eczmea has never re-remerged.  I've not had a single migraine for almost 2 years now.  I followed up with SpectraCell's micronutrient testing to verify that my zinc deficiency had been corrected.  Once repleted, my zinc levels have remained normal.  I still have the testing done twice per year on myself as well as my husband. 

This makes me wonder: how many people start having new health issues after a major physical event such as pregnancy, illness, surgery, etc?

Topics: Migraines, pregnancy, skin disorder, eczema, Women's Health