Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Does lowering circulating lipoprotein(a) levels influence cardiovascular outcomes?

A comprehensive research strategy and plan is needed to determine the most efficient, safe, cost-effective and widely applicable strategy to decrease circulating levels of lipoprotein(a) and to determine whether lowering circulating lipoprotein(a) levels will reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease such as a heart attack or a stroke as well as the progression of atherosclerosis or aortic stenosis.

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Approximately 20% of the population are characterized by elevated circulating levels of lipoprotein(a), regardless of age, gender or blood cholesterol levels. Estimates suggest that up to 90% of the variation in plasma lipoprotein(a) levels could be due to genetic factors, which makes lipoprotein(a) the most prevalent inherited risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Large-scale genetic studies have shown that Lipoprotein(a) was the strongest genetic determinant of CVD such as atherosclerosis and aortic stenosis. Lipoprotein(a) is one of the strongest predictors of residual CVD risk and has been shown to improve CVD risk prediction in several population-based studies. Lipoprotein(a) is also one of the strongest known risk factors for spontaneous ischemic stroke in childhood.

A comprehensive research strategy aiming at identifying, evaluating interaction with other risk factors, treating and educating patients with elevated lipoprotein(a) levels would result in substantial reductions of health care costs in the US and around the globe by reducing the burden of CVD while simultaneously improving the quality of life of these patients.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

The list of pharmaceutical agents that reduce lipoprotein(a) levels is steadily increasing. There are approximately half a dozen strategies that have been shown to significantly and safely lower lipoprotein(a) levels. One of the challenges of this research strategy will be to determine which of these strategies represent the most efficient, safe, cost-effective and widely applicable approach to lower lipoprotein(a) levels and CVD outcomes.

Increasing awareness on lipoprotein(a) and CVD will also be of utmost importance for this effort as relatively few physicians perform lipoprotein(a) testing and even fewer patients are aware of their lipoprotein(a) level. The first sign of high lipoprotein(a) is often a heart attack or stroke. Our challenge will be to identify patients with high lipoprotein(a) that could be enrolled in trials of risk characterization and lipoprotein(a)-lowering.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Sandra Revill Tremulis on behalf of the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation Scientific Advisory Board

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Idea No. 584