Doctors have issued a plea for more testing for a hardly known heart condition after a father of five suddenly dropped dead on a run. Ben Beale, 47, was out on a run in preparation for a charity boxing fight when he was hit by what doctors initially thought was a “catastrophic one-off” heart attack.

Mr Beale, from Perth in Australia, was told only a week before his death in 2017 he had a low chance of having a heart attack, his wife Sarah Beale said.

But an autopsy showed he had an “extensive” buildup of a type of cholesterol less known to the general public.

Professor Jason Kovacic, executive director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, said the man had a high level of lipoprotein (a), also called Lp(a).

The buildup of cholesterol directly contributed to his heart attack, Professor Kovacic confirmed.

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He said the research connecting Lp(a) and high levels of stroke and heart attack is “unquestionable”. 

The Australian academic added that many doctors and ordinary people are unaware of Lp(a) despite the link between Lp(a) and high levels of stroke and heart attack. 

It is believed up to 20 percent of the population could have high levels of Lp(a). But in the UK, Lp(a) is not tested routinely by GPs. 

Instead, a trip to a specialist lipid clinic is required.


A more well-known form of “bad” cholesterol is LDL cholesterol, which also increases your heart attack risk. Cases of high cholesterol are usually caused by lifestyle factors, although genetics can play a role too.

On the other hand, Lp(a) is mainly considered a genetic problem meaning seemingly healthy people can have high levels of it. 

Professor Kovacic thinks it is linked to the deaths of young healthy individuals.

Researchers have found high levels of the substance in people whose families have a history of heart attacks and those who suffer strokes and heart attacks in their 30s.

Mr Beale’s widow Sarah said her husband was “extremely fit” and regrets that they didn’t go for more blood tests.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI) is working with Mrs Beale to make sure “Ben’s death does not become just another statistic”.

Last year, the institution announced its plans to open the Ben Beale Laboratory in Cardiovascular Research at the University of Western Australia.

The centre will help to “accelerate new treatments for cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis”, The VCCRI stated.

Mrs Beale said: “I’m determined to ensure that Ben’s death does not just become just another statistic – which is why I am urging you all to support our plans to establish the Ben Beale Laboratory in Cardiovascular Research.

‘We’re committed to opening this laboratory at the Institute’s base at the University of Western Australia on April 24th – to mark the fifth anniversary of Ben’s passing.”

“What happened to Ben could happen to any of us – he was at the peak of his fitness and health and had no idea he was suffering from a disease that takes far too many lives.”

Post source: Daily Express

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