Increasing HDL Level Linked to Lower Heart Disease Risk

Graded relationship seen between long-term high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increases and risk

FRIDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In apparently healthy men, an increasing level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is associated with a significantly decreased risk of coronary heart disease, according to study findings published in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Catherine Rahilly-Tierney, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues studied 4,501 men enrolled in the Physician's Health Study I whose HDL level was measured in 1982 and 1996.

After adjusting for age, initial HDL cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, non-HDL cholesterol and history of cholesterol medication, the researchers found a linear association between changes in HDL cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Compared to men whose levels decreased by at least 2.5 mg/dL, they found a significantly lower risk in men whose levels did not change, increased by 2.5 to 12.5 mg/dL, or increased by more than 12.5 mg/dL (hazard ratios, 0.66, 0.56, and 0.43, respectively).

"Previous studies have shown a linear association between change in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease," the authors write. "Results of our study showed that a graded relation may also exist between long-term increases in HDL cholesterol and risk of coronary heart disease. Our observational data therefore lend support to HDL cholesterol as a potential therapeutic target in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease."

Two study authors disclosed receiving financial support from pharmaceutical companies.

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