ByJim Ehmke, NC
Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a), consists of an LDL particle covalentlyattached to apolipoprotein (a). In numerous studies elevated plasmalevels of Lp(a) are positively associated with increased risk ofatherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and stroke. There are someexperts who believe Lp(a) may be the single most important lipidin assessing one’s true risk of developing these conditions.
Dr. Mercola has written about Lp(a) on his site and has emphasizedthe importance of this test. Some researchers have established agenetic link to Lp(a) levels. It is synthesized in the liver.
I have been testing Lp(a) levels in clients for at least the pastsix years. During this time I have observed repeatedly that statindrugs, especially Lipitor, raise Lp(a) above the medical referencerange.
My first anecdotal experience in this regard occurred when I wastesting my mother's lipids. At the time she was not taking statinsand had recently been diagnosed with atherosclerosis. Her initialLp(a) was 26 with a reference range of 0 to 30. Although technicallywithin range, I knew via Dr. Mercola and others that anything over10 should be scrutinized. Against my wishes my mother, being ofthe old school, went along with her doctor and decided to take Lipitor.Six months later I retested her Lp(a) and it was 76! Needless tosay I was shocked and perplexed. After expressing my reservationsto her physician I was not surprised to learn that the doctor knewnothing about Lp(a).
After this experience I began to check Lp(a) on as many clientsas possible. I was especially interested to test Lp(a) levels beforeand after statin use. To my amazement after three months on Lipitora very high percentage of clients who had normal levels of Lp(a)before taking Lipitor had elevations above the reference range.I kept scratching my head thinking, "Could it be that Lipitoractually worsens heart and artery disease? That the very thing toutedto reduce such risks could actually increase them? Is informationon this huge moneymaker being withheld?"
Obviously, this is not proof of anything, just an interesting observation.Dr. Mercola has offered to post this information to see if otherclinicians are interested to study this with their patients. Perhapssome have already observed something similar--or not. If this isa valid anecdote, as my experience suggests, the grass roots effortsof practitioners in the field could conceivably lead to the fundingof a larger study to prove or disprove the possibility that Lipitorraises Lp(a). If the tens of millions of Americans who take Lipitorevery day are actually harming themselves it would be a worthy publicservice to reveal this fact.
If you are interested to report your findings please distinguishthe type of statin drug that is being used. Most of those that I'vetested were taking Lipitor. I think there may be the possibilitythat Zocor and Mevacor are less likely to raise Lp(a).
Lastly, in discussing this with various lipid specialists, includingthe head of a lipid department at a major university, I learnedthat a pharmaceutical version of niacin, Niaspan, is very effectiveat reducing Lp(a). So in those cases where it is necessary to lowerLp(a) there is the option of using Niaspan. This is what my motherended up doing. Plus, because Niaspan cannot be patented it costsa fraction of what statin drugs cost. No wonder it's not marketedaggressively.
JimEhmke, NC had been practicing clinical nutrition since 1976.His interest in nutrition began in 1972 when he worked for thenutritional pioneer, VE Irons. This 10 year relationship led tostudies with associates of VE Irons including the herbalist JohnChristopher and the iridologist, Bernard Jensen, DC.
In 1976 Jim and his wife, Karen Walker Ehmke, MS, RD, opened CompleteHealth Services in the Milwaukee suburbs. Shortly thereafter theEhmke's studied with Dr. Wm. Donald Kelley and received certificationto Dr. Kelley's Nutritional Academy. This led to additional trainingwith Dr. Jeffrey Bland, Dr. Kenneth Brockman, Dr. Versendaal andnumerous other practitioners of the healing arts, including certificationwith NINE/American Health Science University.
Withthe employment of MD's and DO's Complete Health Services expandedupon its base of natural therapies and grew into an integratedclinic offering a range of IV, injectable and chelation services.For the past 3 years the Ehmke's have lived in Hawaii and Jimnow practices exclusively by phone, fax and email. Their clinicremains in the hands of two outstanding associates, Jason Siczkowycz,ND and Marc Siczkowycz, ND.
Lp(a) is a substance that is made up of an LDL "bad cholesterol"part plus a protein (apoprotein a). Elevated Lp(a) levels are avery strong risk factor for heart disease. This has been well established,yet very few physicians check for it in their patients. I have beentesting my patients for Lp(a) for years and, despite the fact thatmany news reports say it does not respond to diet, I have foundthat patients’ levels improve when they follow my dietrecommendations. I also put them on the following supplements:
- 1 gram two to three times a day of L-lysine and L-Proline
- Vitamin C, 1000 mg with each meal
- Niacin hexanicinate (a sustained release form of niacin that does not cause flushing or liver toxicity) to tolerance, which is usually 1000 mg three times a day
[Please note that these supplements are ONLY recommended for people with established cardiovascular disease or those who have an elevated Lp(a) level. I do NOT advocate this vitamin regimen for generalized protection from cardiovascular disease as, for most of us, simply following the nutrition plan will virtually eliminate the risk of heart disease.]
The answer to lowering Lp(a) and cholesterol is NOT statin drugslike Lipitor. The statin drugs used to lower cholesterol are themost widely used drugs in the country, with Lipitor taking top honors.
If you aren't familiar with the dangers and inappropriatenessof statin drugs then you should review my article on the truthabout cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Drugs are rarely the solution for high cholesterol. Well over99 percent of people can normalize their cholesterol levels by restrictinggrains and sugars. There are only a handful of people with geneticissues who require statin drugs, and their cholesterol levels aretypically 350 or higher.
In addition to restricting grains and sugars, which you canread more about in my new book, Total Health Program, there are some simple thingsyou can do to normalize cholesterol levels.
You can take a high-quality krill oil.
Additionally, if you are a man, or a woman who is in menopause,you should check youriron levels as elevated levels of iron can raise cholesterollevels and cause major oxidative damage in the blood vessels, heartand other organs. Excess ironis also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk.
Regular exercise isanother important tool that may reduce your risk of heart disease.