High HDL Function Linked to Lower Heart Disease Risk

Pharmacy Times, November 2015 Cough, Cold, & Flu, Volume 81, Issue 11

The results of a recent study suggest that patients' HDL function may be a better indicator of their heart disease risk than their HDL levels.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often referred to as good cholesterol, has long been known to help prevent heart disease by removing fat from artery walls. However, the results of a recent study suggest that patients’ HDL function, or the efficiency of their HDL at removing cholesterol, may be a better indicator of their heart disease risk than their HDL levels.

The study, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, examined data and blood samples from a previous study that enrolled more than 25,000 patients, 1745 of whom developed coronary heart disease during a follow-up period. After accounting for factors such as age, sex, smoking status, and HDL level, the research team determined that the patients whose blood had the highest measures of HDL function had 36% fewer heart attacks and other heart disease events during the follow-up period compared with those who had the lowest HDL function. The researchers also linked high HDL function with greater alcohol intake and fewer cases of diabetes and obesity.

“This is a definitive finding that HDL function, even in people who are still relatively young and healthy, does predict later heart disease events, which implies that therapies that boost HDL function might reduce risk,” says senior author Daniel J. Rader, MD, in a press release.

The study authors added that investigational drugs designed to increase HDL levels may also boost HDL function and expressed hope that future heart drugs would specifically target this ability.