Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), is a problem area in coronary plaque reversal.
While our current Track Your Plaque record holder for largest percentage reduction in heart scan score has Lp(a), it remains among the more troublesome lipoprotein patterns.
One unique treatment for Lp(a) is high-dose omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. While the data are relatively meager, there is one solid study from Lp(a) expert, Dr. Santica Marcovina of the University of Washington, called “The Lugalawa Study.”
In this unique set of observations, 1300 members of a Bantu tribe living in Tanzania were studied. What made this population unusual is the fact that two groups of Bantus lived under different circumstances. One group lived on Nyasa Lake (3rd largest lake in Africa and reputed to have the greatest number of species of fish of any lake in the world) and ate large quantities of freshwater fish providing up to 500 mg of omega-3s, EPA and DHA, per day. Another Bantu group lived away from the lake as farmers, eating a pure vegetarian diet without fish.
This situation among genetically similar stock provided a unique learning opportunity, a chance to assess whether different diets influenced Lp(a) levels.
The results: The fish-eating Bantus had an average Lp(a) level of 14.0 mg/dl. The farming, non-fish eating Bantus had an average Lp(a) of 27.0–a 48% difference. Curiously, a comparison of the apo(a) component of Lp(a) between the groups also showed that the fisherman expressed fewer dangerous small apo(a) forms, despite equal potential to express both.
The Lugalawa Study opens the question of whether similar results can be obtained not by moving to Tanzania and fishing Nyasa Lake, but by mimicking their experience by supplementing high doses of omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s an intriguing question. In the Track Your Plaque program, we have no specific experience with this strategy, but it is certainly worth exploring further.
Watch for two upcoming Special Reports on the Track Your Plaque website in which we will be detailing 1)unique strategies for Lp(a) reduction, and 2) the usefulness of high-dose fish oil for coronary plaque reversal.
Interesting enough for a Virtual Clinical Trial?
Image courtesy Wikipedia.
Copyright 2008 William Davis, MD
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