Increasing HDL May Curb Coronary Disease
Individuals with low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; "good")cholesterol and heart disease may benefit from treatment targeted atraising HDL levels. For the 30-month study, 143 retired military personnelwith heart disease and low HDL were randomly assigned to aplacebo treatment or aggressive HDL-cholesterol-raising therapy withgemfibrozil, niacin, and cholestyramine. The participants also had dietand exercise counseling.
The study's findings showed that the participants in the active treatmentgroup had a 20% decrease in total cholesterol, a 36% rise inHDL cholesterol, a 26% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL;"bad") cholesterol, and a 50% fall in triglycerides, compared with theplacebo group. Improvement in the narrowing of the coronary arteriesincreased by 0.8% in the individuals on active therapy, compared witha decrease of 1.4% in the placebo group. The researchers also determinedthat significantly more individuals on the placebo therapy thanactive therapy (26% vs 13%) had a heart attack, stroke, or the needfor heart surgery. Reporting their findings in the Annals of InternalMedicine (January 18, 2005), the researchers noted that there is noevidence whether the improvements were due to reductions in LDL orincreases in HDL cholesterol.