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May 24, 1999

New Perspectives on the Management of Low Levels of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine (Drs Harper and Jacobson) and Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (Dr Jacobson), Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.

Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(10):1049-1057. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.10.1049

  A low serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) level is a potent predictor of coronary heart disease (CHD). It has been estimated that 11% of US men have isolated low HDL-C levels, and there is uncertainty regarding the management of these patients. A cause-and-effect relationship between low HDL-C levels and CHD is supported by epidemiological, animal, and human clinical studies. We reviewed the structure and function of HDL-C and its role in preventing atherosclerosis. We then suggested an approach to the patient with isolated low HDL-C that may be useful to the primary care physician. An algorithm was proposed for use in patients with existing CHD, while the decision to treat patients without CHD was based on their score on the Framingham Heart Study risk prediction chart.