If you have hypertension, think Lp(a)

Clair has coronary disease.

Clair first came to attention at age 57 when she suffered a large heart attack involving the front of her heart (the "anterior wall") two years ago. Her cardiologist implanted a drug-coated stent. Her doctors advised her to "cut the fat" in her diet, exercise, and take Lipitor.

One year later, she required a stent to another artery (circumflex). At this point, Clair was thoroughly demoralized and terrified for her future. Her first heart attack left her heart muscle with only 50% of normal strength.

She came to my office for another opinion. Of course, one of the first things we did was to identify all causes of her heart disease. No surprise, Clair had 7 new causes not previously identified, including low HDL (37 mg/dl), a severe small LDL particle pattern (75% of all particles were small), and Lp(a).

Her blood pressure was also 190/88, despite her relatively slender build and 3 medications that reduced blood pressure. That's a Lp(a) effect: Exagerrated coronary risk along with unexpected hypertension that often seems inappropriate.

In fact, I saw several patients just this week with lipoprotein(a), Lp(a), and exagerrated high blood pressure (hypertension). It's not that uncommon.

Though it has not been described in the medical literature, our experience is that hypertension is a prominent part of the entire Lp(a) "syndrome".

Lp(a) is responsible for much-increased potential for coronary disease (coronary plaque). It increases in importance as estrogen recedes in a woman (pre-menopause and menopause) and testosterone in a man, since both hormones powerful suppress Lp(a) expression (though why and how nobody knows).

I believe that Lp(a) is also responsible for hypertension that most commonly develops in a persons mid-50s and onwards, often with a vengeance. 3 or 4 anti-hypertensive medications and still not controlled.

Role of l-arginine

L-arginine may be more helpful in this situation than others. L-arginine, recall, is the supply for your body's nitric oxide, a powerful dilator of the body's arteries and thereby reduces blood pressure. We use 6000 mg twice a day, a large dose that requires use of powder preparations rather than capsules.

More reading about l-arginine and nitric oxide is available through Nobel laureate, Dr. Louis Ignarro's book, NO More Heart Disease : How Nitric Oxide Can Prevent--Even Reverse--Heart Disease and Stroke, available at Amazon.com ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312335814/104-1247258-6443909?v=glance&n=283155).

Will l-arginine truly reverse heart disease on its own? No, I don't believe so. Contrary to Dr. Ignarro's extravagant claims, I find l-arginine a facilitator of plaque regression, i.e, it helps other strategies achieve regression, but it does not achieve regression or reversal by itself. (Note that Dr. Ignarro is a lab researcher who studies rats and has never treated a human being.)

But l-arginine may have special application in the person with lp(a), particularly if hypertension is part of the syndrome.

Note: As always, please note that I talk frankly about l-arginine and other supplements and medications but have no hidden agenda: I am not selling anything, nor am I affiliated with any source/website/store etc. that sells these products. If I advocate something, I do so because I truly believe it, not because I'm trying to sell something. I make this point because so much nonsense is propagated in the media because of profit-motive. That's not true here.