Increasing levels of high-density lipoproteins, better known as HDL or "good" cholesterol, reduced the risk for heart attack and stroke among patients with diabetes. That's according to a new study appearing online today in The American Journal of Cardiology.
The observational study, one of the largest of its kind, examined the medical records of more than 30,000 patients with diabetes and also found that patients whose HDL levels decreased had more heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers studied patients with diabetes because they are more prone to heart disease with a lifetime risk as high as 87 percent, according to a paper from the landmark Framingham heart study published 2008. While there is considerable evidence that reducing the amount of low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL or "bad" cholesterol, can reduce the risk of heart disease, the relationship between HDL cholesterol and heart disease is less clear.
"Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that raising HDL levels may be an important strategy for reducing heart attack risk," said study lead author Gregory Nichols, PhD, senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.
"This is promising news for patients with diabetes, who already have an increased risk for heart problems. Raising their good cholesterol may be one more way for these patients to reduce their risk," said Suma Vupputuri, PhD, co-author and investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Atlanta.
The study included 30,067 patients who entered Kaiser Permanente diabetes registries in Oregon, Washington and Georgia between 2001 and 2006. These patients had at least two HDL cholesterol measurements between 6 and 24 months apart. Most patients (61 percent) had no significant change in HDL levels; in 22 percent of patients, HDL levels increased by at least 6.5 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter of blood); in 17
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