Archive for the ‘dyslipidemia’ Category

Hyperlipidimia is one of the well-known coronary  risk factor.Serum cholesterol ( Various fractions ) levels are measured to represent that risk. Epidemiologically ,it does a perfect job , however , the fact is , circulating lipids has little correlation with the lipids that’s deposited in the vessel wall.

Time and again , we have proven this as severity of CAD has little  to do with the absolute levels of lipid levels.The number  volume of plaques , the thickness of lipid core, and degree of vulnerability  show  poor correlation with circulating lipid levels than  what we would expect.It tempts us to make a statement , that serum lipid is a poor surrogate marker for CAD. (Still, it may predict the risk of developing it !)

Why this paradox ? What are the  missing links and hidden secrets ?

If you plot a simple graph with serum lipids with  plaque mass, volume and content in CAD population , we might get an  answer .I don’t know whether such a study exist. (Those who find one , please share)

A new concept called cholesterol crystalisation 

It’s not the lipids alone that are responsible for CAD . There is a whole lot of factors , circulating  pro inflammatory  mediators, altered blood coagulation system  , various  inflammatory molecules, , heightened  intra-coronary pressures, genetic vulnerabilities .

Most importantly ,the format  of lipid molecule in side  the plaque seems to matter more  rather the  absolute content.(Small dense LDL, oxidised lipids,Lipid fed macrophages etc )

There is lesser reported phenomenon  called cholesterol crystalisation , with sharp edges (Lipid knife ?) that are responsible random episodes  plaque fissure and rupture.

It was reported in  one of the  rare research paper that came from  (Abela Am J Cardiol.2009)  Factors that crysalise cholesterol include local saturation,  PH, temperature , hydration and plaque RBC contact.

If you argue lipid levels are not  correlating with CAD , how is that reducing it with statins dramatically reduce  CAD and the events ?

Like blood pressure the normality of serum lipids itself is not defined.One insightful definition was proposed , that the level at which a person develops CAD is high for that patient however low it may be..A person who develops extensive CAD  say at a level of  90mgLDL what to infer ? We do not know exact  answer.

That’s why the  concept of satin for all with clinical CAD looked attractive. Still , statin’s action doesn’t help  answer the original query about the relationship between blood lipids and plaque lipids.

Statins beneficial effect is not by reduction of serum cholesterol.It primary acts by  regressing intra-plaque lipids by blocking synthesis of lipids in every cell.The anti inflammatory,plaque stabilisation action of  statin may be  independent of lipid reduction.How much it contributes to overall benefits is not known.

The mystery will deepen

Not every LDL is bad.(I will be slapped if I call them Good LDL !) Small dense LDL , LDL P (Particle) ApoB (The real culprit on which LDL piggybacks ) lipoprotein little a and so many other lipid sub particles are being studied.

Final message

The purpose of this post is not to confuse our understanding about coronary  lipidology but to widen our vision . Serum lipids remain a poor surrogate marker for plaque lipids. This is because , It’s rather a small fraction of sample volume we catch in the  circulating blood , while loads of lipids gets deposited elsewhere in the body ! This also make it clear,no single risk factor in isolation is really CAD risky.It is the combination of risks , genetic susceptibility , LDL subfractions, few unknown risk/protective factors and finally a mandatory trigger(Hemodynamic, Emotional ?) that determine the outcome of  CAD.

So ladies and gentle men , just don’t over react to mildly abnormal lipid levels you often find in  master health checks .There is much more untold stories behind the true CAD risk than the glossy lab printouts would suggest !



3.The Role of Lipids and Lipoproteins in Atherosclerosis MacRae F Linton, MD, Patricia G Yancey, 

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Whatever  is your answer .   It will be   far off from the truth .

What causes  Atheroscerosis ?

The perception  that , circulating lipids directly damage  the coronary endothelium is an  ill proven concept.  Isolated hyperlipidemia  rarely leads to full blown Atherosclerois .

If  LDL moelcules  can penetrate the endothelium  , why the circulating LDL  at a normal concentration of 130mg/dl  fail to do so in vast number of humans   as they criss cross the human circulatory system  at-least a  trillion times  every year ?  So , there  must be something else  operating *It requires a high blood pressure, diabetes , smoking or some form of endothelial injury  (That includes chronic Inflammation )  for the  lipids to  enter the sub endothelial planes and start depositing.

The relationship between serum lipids and plaque burden lacks clarity.

* The argument that 130mg LDL is injurious to endothelium  while  100mg  is not  ,  can  easily be disputed !

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International Astronomical Union  in the year 2006  removed Pluto from the solar system for a simple reason ,  the so-called Pluto never revolved around  Sun , hence it ceased to be a planet of the solar system , it was more of an asteroid !

So, an astronomical fact engraved in our brains for so long  became a fairy tale. It is very hard  to erase  a  myth however solid the new evidence are against it.

The concept of HDL as good cholesterol has been etched deep in physician as well as our  patients.

Now comes the shocker from Lancet

How are we so sure ,  about these  Invisible spheres of  lipids that  move  around  our “Bio-system” in a presumed fashion .  .  .  even huge visible planets  fool us easily !

The Link to lancet study

It is  a wonderfully done study where  thousands of patients  who exhibited  genetically high HDL levels , never showed any advantage in terms of CAD prevention.  A stunning blow to a belief.

Incidentally ,  few years back  the failure of  drug Torcetrapib proved the same point  .  (The drug which elevates  HDL  proved useless in preventing CAD  ) but the  medical world failed to interpret it properly.

I am sure, still sections of physician  community would continue to believe HDL is great molecule for CAD protection !

Science is  often what we presume . . . but the fact usually turns out to be some thing  else !  but the journey towards truth  must continue !

                      When  a  million tonne  Pluto  suddenly disappear from Solar system . . . it is not a  big deal for  a  “miniscule medical myth”   to get shattered !

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