Higher blood levels of sitosterol may be associated with increased risk for coronary events

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 10, 2003 Results from a nested, case-control study showed that patients with both high coronary risk and higher blood levels of sitosterol (1) (a plant sterol) were at an increased risk of a major coronary event compared to similar patients with lower blood levels of the plant sterol. These results were presented today at the 2003 American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions. Very high levels of plant sterols in the blood (levels ranging from 200 to 1570 mol/L [2,3]) have been previously confirmed as a risk factor for coronary heart disease.(4)

In this study, 177 cases (patients who suffered myocardial infarction [MI] or sudden coronary death within 10 years of follow-up) were selected from the PROCAM (Prospective Cardiovascular Muenster) study population. Each case was matched to two controls (n=354) from PROCAM based on age, gender, smoking status and date of investigation. Phytosterol concentrations, including sitosterol, were measured in samples collected at baseline in order to determine an association between phytosterol blood levels and increased risk for future coronary events.

Results from the study, which was funded in part by Merck/Schering-Plough

Pharmaceuticals, showed that levels of sitosterol were higher in patients who suffered coronary events compared to the matched controls (5.03 3.44 mol/L vs. 4.31 2.38 mol/L, p=0.003).

In addition, results from this preliminary study showed that study patients with modestly elevated (5) levels of sitosterol (>5.25mol/L) and high LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) (=4.14 mmol/L) were at nearly double the risk of a major coronary event compared to those with high LDL-C and sitosterol in the lower ranges (=5.25mol/L; p=0.025). Men considered at high risk for coronary events (>20 percent in 10 years as calculated using the PROCAM algorithm), who also had modestly elevated levels of sitosterol were at an estimated three-fold increased risk compared to those with

Contact: Jutta Reising, University of Muenster
Porter Novelli

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