Living well with elevated Lp(a)
Living well with elevated Lp(a)
Disclaimer: the guidance provided in this section does not constitute nor replace medical advice. Please speak to your doctor about any lifestyle changes that may be appropriate for you.
It is important to attend appointments and to follow medical advice but people living with elevated Lp(a) can do more to improve their overall health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Those affected may need to modify lifestyle factors to reduce the overall risk of cardiovascular disease and if they have children, support them in making positive lifestyle choices also.
People who have been diagnosed with elevated Lp(a) may initially experience feelings of shock and then anxiety as they come to terms with the reality of living with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This is entirely natural and it is important to develop coping strategies or seek help to support positive mental health.
The following tips can be helpful.
+Become an expert on elevated Lp(a)
- Learn as much as possible about elevated Lp(a) and what you can do to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Keep a note of test results such as cholesterol tests and blood pressure readings. A number of different apps are available for phones and tablets and they can make it easy to keep track of results.
- Think about talking to other people with elevated Lp(a) – it can be helpful to share experiences.
- Patient groups are an excellent source of up-to-date information and valuable support. Organisations such as FH Europe: https://fheurope.org/about-fh/lp-a/, FH Foundation: https://thefhfoundation.org/ and Heart UK: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/ offer a wealth of materials.
+Make positive lifestyle choices
- People with elevated Lp(a) are often given medication to manage other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol and blood pressure and raised blood sugar. It is important to take these as directed.
- They may also be given specific advice on modifying lifestyle factors that can impact on cardiovascular health. It is important to follow these recommendations but all people with elevated Lp(a) can benefit from making general positive lifestyle choices. The following general tips should be discussed with your doctor
- Choose a healthy diet high in ‘good’ fats, such as nuts, fish, avocado and olive oil (a Mediterranean type diet can be a good option). Eat plenty of vegetables and wholegrains and limit other types of fat and sugar.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity every day.
- As is recommended for all people and especially those with risk of cardiovascular disease, it is strongly advised to avoid smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Your doctor can discuss options with you if you need help quitting.
- Aim for a healthy body mass index (BMI). Your doctor can provide support and information on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Understandably, being diagnosed with a condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease can be a shock, particularly in people who regarded themselves as relatively fit and healthy. This is an entirely natural reaction.
- The diagnosis may change a person’s perception of themselves and leave them feeling anxious about the future.
- The fact that there is currently no effective treatment for elevated Lp(a) can leave people feeling exposed and vulnerable. People with heart disease sometimes talk about living with a ‘ticking time-bomb’.
- It is important to develop coping strategies for positive mental health and to focus on the fact that many of the other risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease can be managed to a greater or lesser extent.
- Taking an active role in positive lifestyle changes can allow people with elevated Lp(a) to feel more positive and in control.
- If negative feelings are becoming difficult to cope with, it is important to ask for help, including seeking advice from a medical professional. A range of techniques can be helpful. These include learning relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling.
- It is also to be open and honest with family and friends about how you are feeling.