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Heart disease study may promote diagnostic blood test

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Testing for the fat-carrying molecule lipoprotein (LPA) may help doctors assess a patient's risk for heart disease, new research suggests.

In the background information of the study reported in the December 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers explained that while low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol most clearly indicates coronary risk, elevated blood levels of LPA have also been linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, HealthDay News reports.

The study, led by Martin Farrall, a professor of cardiovascular genetics at the University of Oxford in England, examined the DNA of more almost 6,500 individuals to verify that two gene variants which affect LPA levels were strongly associated with coronary disease.

"This kind of study shows that people who carry a genetically determined high level of LPA have an increased risk, and this will likely increase enthusiasm for measuring LPA blood levels," for those with a family history of heart disease, Dr Sekar Kathiresan, director of preventive cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the news source.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 250,000 people die each year in the U.S. as a result of sudden heart attacks.

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