High levels of an enzyme called lipo-protein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2), which is believed to trigger a cascade of inflammatory events in atherosclerosis, can independently predict an increased risk of stroke. Findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2004 by researchers from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.
Middle-aged participants with the highest levels of Lp-PLA2had a statistically significant doubled risk of having an ischemic stroke over a period of six years compared with those with the lowest levels of the enzyme even when traditional cardiovascular risk factors (systolic blood pressure, smoking status, and diabetes) and the risk marker of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein) were accounted for. Patients with the highest Lp-PLA2 and C-reactive protein levels had more than an 11-fold increased risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels.
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Lp-PLA2 helps to process a form of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) into products within atherosclerotic plaques and is believed to trigger a cascade of inflammatory events. Atherosclerosis accounts for 50% of all deaths in Western countries.