SOURCE: Lipoprotein(a) Foundation


November 16, 2013 06:00 ET

Hidden Heart Risk Revealed: New Non-Profit Empowers Approximately 30% of Americans at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease to Be Advocates for Their Heart Health

"How Could I Have Normal LDL-Cholesterol and Almost Die of a Heart Attack at 39 Years of Age? The Answer: High Lipoprotein(a)," said Sandra Tremulis, Founder, Lipoprotein(a) Foundation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - November 16, 2013) - Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Americans, yet 50% of hospital admissions for coronary artery disease have normal LDL-cholesterol(i). The Lipoprotein(a) Foundation is revealing this hidden risk for patients.

"Patients with elevated Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] levels have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral arterial disease(ii). Lp(a) is a genetically-determined condition that is not responsive to lifestyle changes. Elevated Lp(a) levels are present in about 30% of the population at large(iii). Since Lp(a) is not currently routinely measured by physicians, many patients are unaware that they have elevated levels. Lp(a) can be measured with a routine lipid blood panel, but there is no adequate treatment currently to lower levels. Knowledge of elevated Lp(a) levels may motivate physicians to treat their patients' risk factors more aggressively and patients to live a heart healthy lifestyle until specific therapies can be developed and tested clinically," said Sotirios Tsimikas, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director of Vascular Medicine at the University of California San Diego. "The Lipoprotein(a) Foundation is a needed resource for education of patients and their families that aims to raise public awareness of the potential risk of elevated Lp(a) levels that will hopefully lead to prevention and early treatment of cardiovascular disease."

"It is now documented that elevated Lp(a) levels not only cause heart attacks, but also aortic valve stenosis, another serious and potentially deadly heart disease. Therefore like those with heart attacks, individuals with aortic valve stenosis and their family members should have Lp(a) measured," said Professor, Chief Physician Børge Nordestgaard from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. He adds "it is a great commitment to initiate the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation, as this may help more individuals and patients being diagnosed with this genetic disorder."(iv)

"Lipoprotein(a) is the most atherogenic lipoprotein in human blood (a substance promoting the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries). It packs a triple threat: (1) It has the bad properties of low density lipoprotein (LDL), (2) It is an inhibitor of fibrinolysis, a process that prevents blood clots from growing and becoming problematic and (3) It serves as a sink (transporter) for oxidized phospholipids," said Joe McConnell, Ph.D., D.A.B.C.C., Chief Laboratory Officer and co-founder of Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc.

Thomas Dayspring, M.D., F.A.C.P, F.N.L.A the Director of Cardiovascular Education at the Foundation for Health Improvement and Technology in Richmond, Va., states that recent data has shown that Lp(a) is the strongest genetic risk factor for coronary artery disease.(v)

"Now more than ever, Americans need to understand their inherited risk for cardiovascular disease and advocate for their own health," said Sandra Revill Tremulis, Founder of the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation. "In the new 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults, elevated levels of Lp(a) are associated with an increased risk for premature arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and often have a familial pattern, as plasma Lp(a) levels are genetically determined to a great extent."

Sandra learned first-hand the importance of knowing your genetic risk factors. Sandra's father died of a heart attack at 50. It was the biggest tragedy of her life. But Sandra was determined that this was never going to happen to her. She was doing everything right: she was an avid runner who, watched her diet and had an annual physical. But, fate and genetics caught up with her when she almost lost her own life to a heart attack. At age 39, Sandra began experiencing extreme fatigue and a mild tingling in her chest while running and, although the symptoms would fade at rest, Sandra was unsettled by her condition.

"As my symptoms persisted, I became more concerned," said Sandra. "Even though my family doctor told me I was healthy I knew something was wrong. So, I sought a second opinion from a specialist only to learn that there was substantially reduced blood flow to the left side of my heart due to a 95% blocked coronary artery; I was on the brink of a potentially fatal heart attack."

Sandra asked her doctor this question, "How could I do everything right and almost die of a heart attack -- at age 39?" He ordered a specialized lipid blood test, and found that she had inherited a lipid condition called lipoprotein(a)." See Sandra's story here:

In May 2013, inspired by the lack of awareness for this common lipid condition, Sandra started the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation. The vision for the foundation is to create a world where high Lp(a) is routinely diagnosed and treated, and families are screened. At this time, there is no specific therapy for high Lp(a), but all other treatable risk factors can be aggressively managed. The mission is to prevent lipoprotein(a)-related cardiovascular events by diagnosing this genetic disorder, empowering patients and saving lives. The foundation wants to save lives by increasing awareness, advocating for routine testing and development of a specific treatment for high Lp(a). Sandra hopes to prevent others from experiencing the tragic loss of a loved one. She wants the research to lead to better diagnostics and treatment -- to be in place to help her daughter and every child who may inherit high Lp(a) avoid their cardiovascular destiny.

People can receive the latest information on Lp(a) by becoming members of the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation at, where there are opportunities to connect with an online community of others who have a dedicated interest in cardiovascular health and to receive periodic news updates, information from experts and links to useful resources. To join the lipoprotein(a) community on Facebook or Twitter visit or

"I am honored to represent the estimated 30% of Americans living with or at risk from high Lp(a)," Sandra added. "I believe that through this foundation we can turn awareness into action and build a community of Americans who are committed to being CardiovascularStrongTM by becoming educated about this inherited risk for cardiovascular disease, being empowered to advocate for their own health and save their own life."

Remember, if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, alert your healthcare provider and ask to be tested for high Lp(a).

i Sachdeva A, Cannon CP, Deedwania PC, et al. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: An analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines. AM Heart J 2009;157:111-7.e2. 

ii Nordestgaard B, Chapman J, et al. Lipoprotein(a) as a cardiovascular risk factor current status. European Heart J 2010;31, 2844-2853

iii Tsimikas S, Hall J. Lipoprotein(a) as a Potential Causal Genetic Risk Factor of Cardiovascular Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Aug 21;60(8):716-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.04.038

iv Thanassoulis G, et al. Genetic associations with valvular calcification and aortic stenosis.N Engl J Med. 2013 Feb 7;368(6):503-12. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1109034

v Kronenberg F, Uterman G. Lipoprotein(a): resurrected by genetics. J Intern Med. 2013 Jan;273(1):6-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2012.02592.x. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

About The Lipoprotein(a) Foundation :

Because approximately 63 million Americans have high lipoprotein(a) and are at risk of premature cardiovascular disease, the vision for the foundation is:

To live in a world where high Lipoprotein(a) is routinely diagnosed, treated and family screened.

The mission is to prevent cardiovascular events due to high Lipoprotein(a) by diagnosing this inherited risk for cardiovascular disease, empowering patients and saving lives. Our goal is to save lives by increasing awareness, advocating for routine testing, and supporting research that will lead to a specific treatment for elevated Lipoprotein(a).

Based in San Carlos, California, The Lipoprotein(a) Foundation is a patient-founded, non-profit organization.



The following files are available for download:

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Sandra Tremulis
    President and Founder
    (650) 995-3242