"We've known about other lipid risk factors for years, such as elevated Low Density Liposprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad), low levels of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good), and elevated triglycerides,” said Sotirios Tsimikas, M.D., UCSD Associate Professor of Cardiology and Director of Vascular Medicine. "Lp(a) appears to be another risk predictor, particularly in patients with abnormal cholesterol levels, but it has not been determined how it actually causes arterial blockages.”

"This study provides a potential explanation, and shows that high levels of oxidised phospholipids and Lp(a) are tightly associated with coronary heart disease, indicating that they could be useful tests to determine risk in patients,” he said. "It also demonstrates that these molecules could be promising targets for pharmaceutical research, particularly in developing new drugs to reduce their levels in the bloodstream and in the vessel wall.”

The team analysed blood samples from 500 patients being treated for heart problems at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, including the clinical and laboratory risk factors associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease in patients who were referred for coronary angiography, a procedure to determine blockage in the coronary arteries. They found that levels of oxidised phospholipids could predict the presence of coronary blockages even after taking into account all other known risk factors such as abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking and gender.

"These results suggest that Lp(a) and oxidised phospholipid levels are very tightly linked and each helps the other contribute toward atherosclerosis when found at high levels in the blood,” Tsimikas said.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California, San Diego