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Johns Hopkins heart researchers develop formula to better calculate 'bad' cholesterol in patients
Date:11/17/2013

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a more accurate way to calculate low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" form of blood fat that can lead to hardening of the arteries and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. If confirmed and adopted by medical laboratories that routinely calculate blood cholesterol for patients, the researchers say their formula would give patients and their doctors a much more accurate assessment of LDL cholesterol.

"The standard formula that has been used for decades to calculate LDL cholesterol often underestimates LDL where accuracy matters most in the range considered desirable for patients at high risk for heart attack and stroke," says Seth S. Martin, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. Martin is first author of the study detailed in a Nov. 19, 2013 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Many studies have shown that higher levels of LDL cholesterol signal greater risk of plaque accumulating in heart arteries. Since 1972, a formula called the Friedewald equation has been used to gauge LDL cholesterol. It is an estimate rather than a direct measurement. However, physicians use the number to assess their patients' risk and determine the best course of treatment.

The Friedewald equation estimates LDL cholesterol with the following formula: total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol minus triglycerides divided by five. The result is expressed in milligrams per deciliter. That equation, the researchers say, applies a one-size-fits-all factor of five to everyone; a more accurate formula would take specific details about a person's cholesterol and triglyceride levels into account.

Using a database of blood lipid samples from more than 1.3 million Americans that were directly measured with a traditional and widely accepted technique known as ultracentrifugation, the researchers
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Contact: Ellen Beth Levitt
eblevitt@jhmi.edu
410-955-5307
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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