HDL -- 'good' cholesterol -- helps bypass surgery

ATLANTA, Nov. 8 -- Individuals who undergo heart surgery are more likely to survive longer and stay healthy if they have high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) -- the "good" cholesterol, researchers reported at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions today.

"In this study, individuals with low levels of HDL cholesterol were more likely to die or eventually need additional surgery. This study shows that HDL cholesterol may be more significant than LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, in predicting the long-term outcome of coronary bypass surgery patients," says JoAnne Micale Foody, M.D., cardiology fellow, preventive cardiology section, department of cardiology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio.

The researchers found that men undergoing bypass surgery who had low levels of HDL cholesterol were nearly twice as likely to die in the next two decades than men whose HDL levels were higher. "Men with higher HDL cholesterol levels survived longer and had fewer cardiac events during their lifetime," says Foody. "It looks like HDL cholesterol is playing a bigger role than previously thought."

HDL helps clear bad cholesterol from the blood, and high levels are protective against heart disease. However, the role of low HDL cholesterol following bypass surgery had not previously been clearly established. HDL cholesterol is considered low at 35 mg/dl or below in men and 45 mg/dl or below in women. The researchers identified 432 men registered in the Cardiovascular Information Registry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation who had undergone lipid studies before having coronary bypass surgery. The study lasted 20 years. Patients were contacted at 5-year intervals to recheck their lipid levels. Lipids are fatty substances, such as cholesterol, found in the blood.

"These results point toward the potential benefit of raising HDL cholesterol in patients who undergo coronary bypass surgery, as well as others with heart disease," she says.


Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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