Correlates of high hdl cholesterol among women with coronary heart disease

Vera Bittner, Joel A. Simon, Josephine Fong, Roger S. Blumenthal, Kristin Newby, Marcia L. Stefanick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has designated high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ≥60 mg/dL a 'negative' coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factor, but a substantial proportion of coronary events occur among women despite high HDL-C levels. Methods and Results: The objective of this study was to characterize postmenopausal women with prevalent CHD despite HDL-C ≥60 mg/dL and to identify factors that may attenuate the protective effect of high HDL-C. We analyzed baseline data from a randomized, double-blind study of estrogen/progestin replacement therapy in 2763 postmenopausal women <80 years old with CHD. Demographics, CHD risk factors, medications, anthropometrics, and lipid levels were compared among women with low, normal, and high HDL-C by NCEP criteria with and without stratification by use of lipid-lowering medications. Independent correlates of high HDL-C were determined by logistic regression analysis. HDL-C ≥60 mg/dL was present in 20% of participants. Women with high HDL-C were older, better educated, had fewer CHD risk factors, lower triglyceride levels and total cholesterol/HDL-C ratio, and were more likely to report past estrogen and current calcium antagonist, niacin, and statin use. β-Blocker, diuretic, and fibrate use was less common. Older age, alcohol consumption, niacin, and calcium antagonist use and prior estrogen use were independently associated with high HDL-C, whereas waist-to-hip ratio, smoking, triglyceride level, and β-blocker and fibrate use were inversely associated (all P < .05). Conclusions: High HDL-C, as defined by the NCEP, occurred in 20% of women with CHD in this cohort without a concomitantly higher prevalence of other CHD risk factors. Redefinition of 'high' HDL-C levels for women may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-296
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican heart journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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