Ask The Doctors: August 2011

It was observed a long time ago that patients with low levels of HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) were at elevated risk for developing severe coronary artery disease (CAD) and and a heart attack. As such, doctors reasonably assumed that raising a persons HDL-C would reduce the chance of such events. But subsequent trials have yielded conflicting results. The Coronary Drug Project showed that niacin, an agent which increases HDL-C and decreases LDL-C, decreased heart attacks and saved lives. Later, the Veterans Administration HDL-C Intervention Trial (VA-HIT) showed that treatment with the drug gemfibrozil (Lopid) reduced the likelihood of MI, and this effect appeared due to its ability to increase HDL-C.
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