Researchers have come up with a new test called PLAC test that may indicate early warning of heart disease even in people with low LDL cholesterol. The PLAC test is a simple blood test to detect and measure the levels of Lp-PLA2 (lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2). Lp-PLA2 is a novel biomarker for CHD and has been linked to inflammatory process, which is already known to play a major role in the development of atherosclerosis.
Usually people with normal LDL (or low density lipoproteins- LDL as we know is referred to as the “bad cholesterol” as it is considered a positive risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease) are not targeted for preventive therapy for coronary disease but recently researches have found that even people with normal LDL levels may be at increased risk of heart disease if they have high levels of Lp-PLA2. Lp-PLA2 is an enzyme commonly found in human blood plasma and the arterial plaques, and it tends to augment the harmful effects of LDL.
According to researchers nearly one third to one half of all coronary events such as heart attack occur in people having low LDL levels (i.e. <130 mg/dl) and this increased risk was contributed to the presence of Lp-PLA2. Also, this risk was found to be independent of other risk factors of coronary disease such as low HDL cholesterol, hypertension, family history of heart disease, diabetes and smoking.
Researchers believe that inhibiting the activity of this enzyme can help to prevent and treat certain forms of atherosclerosis. Studies are now being conducted to explore specific therapies that may inhibit the activity of Lp-PLA2.
Hence, Lp-PLA2 measurement in conjunction with traditional risk evaluation can help physicians to predict coronary disease and even heart attack risk in patients having normal or low LDL. This will further help in instituting preventive measures at an early stage. In conjunction with traditional risk evaluation, the PLAC test can improve heart disease risk detection and appropriate patient treatment.