A new gene therapy being developed almost eliminated patients’ blood levels of lipoprotein(a), a protein that’s been linked to early-onset heart disease in some individuals. 

Results from a clinical trial published in the issue of JAMA showed that patients with medium-to-high levels of lipoprotein(a) who received doses up to 500 times higher than the doses commonly used for cholesterol reduction saw their blood levels drop by 98 percent after five months.

Lifestyle Choices are Still Important

Although treatment may be available for high levels of Lp(a) cholesterol in the future, this does not necessarily mean that people at risk of heart disease can stop worrying about their condition. 

Current medical knowledge indicates that lifestyle modifications always dictate treatment for both Lp(a) and LDL cholesterol. People with elevated Lp(a) may also have elevated LDL cholesterol, which may require a statin drug.

Mayo Clinic researchers found that certain lifestyle changes can help control cholesterol. These include eliminating trans fats from the diet, reducing saturated fats, increasing omega-3 fatty acids, exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week or three intense workouts a week, and quitting smoking. Researchers also suggest maintaining a healthy weight, consuming alcohol in moderation, and eating a heart-healthy diet.

Even if you have a genetic tendency to have elevated LDL and Lp(a) – known as familial hypercholesterolemia – following a heart-healthy lifestyle is still the best way to lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.

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