In a study from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, scientists found a type of “bad” cholesterol could raise the risk for first heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease.
But the increased risk only appears in people who already have high blood pressure.
Lipoprotein(a), like low-density cholesterol (LDL), is a subtype of lipoprotein that can build up in arteries, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Lipoproteins consist of protein and fat and carry cholesterol through the blood.
Concentrations of lipoprotein(a) are largely set by genetics and unaffected by lifestyle.
In the current study, the team used data from 6,674 study participants from four groups: people with lipoprotein(a) levels less than 50 mg/dl and no hypertension; people with lipoprotein(a) levels of 50 mg/dl or higher and no hypertension; people with levels less than 50 mg/dl and hypertension; and people with levels 50 mg/dl or higher and hypertension.
The team defined high blood pressure as a top number of 140 or more, a bottom number of 90 or higher or if a person was taking medication to control blood pressure levels.
The researchers found in people whose blood pressure is within the normal range, high levels of lipoprotein(a) did not raise the risk for heart disease events.
They found that the overwhelming amount of heart disease risk in this diverse population appears to be due to high blood pressure.
The study suggested that lipoprotein(a) alone did not raise the risk for cardiovascular events. But when it was combined with hypertension, the more lipoprotein(a) that was present, the higher the risk.
Compared to people with low lipoprotein(a) levels and no hypertension, those with higher lipoprotein(a) and no hypertension had no increased risk for cardiovascular events. Only about 8% had an event in each group.
But both groups with hypertension saw an increase in heart disease risk, whether lipoprotein(a) levels were high or low.
Among those with lower lipoprotein(a), 16.2% had cardiovascular events, as did 18.8% of those with higher lipoprotein(a) levels.
If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about a major cause of high blood pressure, and plant-based foods could benefit people with high blood pressure.
For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies that black tea may strongly reduce blood pressure, and results showing common blood pressure drugs may raise blood pressure in some patients.
The study was conducted by Dr. Rishi Rikhi et al and published in Hypertension.
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