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High HDL Levels Protect Heart Health
Date:9/26/2007

is closely related to the drug's HDL-raising effect. "If the effect is unrelated to HDL, that class of drugs still has a future, because other members of the class might not have the problem," he said. "That still has to be put to the test. New members of the class of drugs could be introduced into clinical trials, probably as early as next year."

The new study has settled one issue, Barter said. "We saw a residual cardiovascular risk in some people with low LDL levels," he said. "It now appears that the major cause of that risk was low HDL levels. The implication is that we should be treating HDL as well as LDL."

"There is a residual risk, and we think that a substantial proportion of this is mediated by low HDL levels," said Dr. Vera Bittner, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and one of the trial leaders. "We all agree that we need drugs that can raise HDL levels, so that we can test the hypothesis that raising HDL will reduce risk."

But Bittner said she was "not quite willing to make the leap of faith that an HDL intervention will work, and the premature discontinuation of the [Pfizer] trial proves my point."

More information

Learn about HDL and LDL cholesterol from the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Philip Barter, M.D., director, Heart Research Institute, Sydney, Australia; Vera Bittner, professor, medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Sept. 27, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine


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