Cholesterol has been identified as a trigger for the development of heart disease.
Researchers from the University of Oxford revealed that Lp(a), a type of cholesterol, has been linked with heart disease since the 1990s but only now have scientists been able to confirmed that it can cause it.
The research team hopes that the discovery could lead to the development of new treatments for the condition.
Lead author of the study Professor Hugh Watkins, said: "We all know about 'good' cholesterol and 'harmful' cholesterol, but this is a third class that we should pay attention to. Diet and exercise have little effect on Lp(a) levels but some existing drugs such as Niacin lower Lp(a) as well as LDL cholesterol."
He added: "Now that we know that Lp(a) is actually a cause of heart disease, testing whether treatments that lower it actually prevent heart attacks should become a priority."
The team's findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Independent advice on private healthcare