Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration has been the prime index of cardiovascular disease risk and the main target for therapy. However, several lipoprotein ratios or "atherogenic indices" have been defined in an attempt to optimize the predictive capacity of the lipid profile. In this review, we summarize their pathophysiological aspects, and highlight the rationale for using these lipoprotein ratios as cardiovascular risk factors in clinical practice, specifying their cut-off risk levels and a target for lipid-lowering therapy. Total/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratios are risk indicators with greater predictive value than isolated parameters used independently, particularly LDL. Future recommendations regarding the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia, including instruments for calculating cardiovascular risk or action guidelines, should include the lipoprotein ratios with greater predictive power which, in view of the evidence-based results, are none other than those which include HDL cholesterol.
Keywords: apolipoproteins; cardiovascular disorders; cholesterol ratios; predictive power.