There is now significant evidence to support an independent causal role for lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) as a risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Plasma Lp(a) concentrations are predominantly determined by genetic factors. However, research into Lp(a) has been hampered by incomplete understanding of its metabolism and proatherogeneic properties and by a lack of suitable animal models. Furthermore, a lack of standardized assays to measure Lp(a) and no universal consensus on optimal plasma levels remain significant obstacles. In addition, there are currently no approved specific therapies that target and lower elevated plasma Lp(a), although there are recent but limited clinical outcome data suggesting benefits of such reduction. Despite this, international guidelines now recognize elevated Lp(a) as a risk enhancing factor for risk reclassification. This review summarises the current literature on Lp(a), including its discovery and recognition as an atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk factor, attempts to standardise analytical measurement, interpopulation studies, and emerging therapies for lowering elevated Lp(a) levels.
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