The recognition and management of hyperlipidaemia in adults: A policy statement of the European Atherosclerosis Society

Eur Heart J. 1988 May;9(5):571-600.


The control of coronary heart disease (CHD) depends primarily on its prevention at an early stage. It is generally agreed that this depends upon the elimination or treatment of the known risk factors for CHD. Among these, hyperlipidaemia occupies a central position. The diagnosis and treatment of this condition is the subject of this statement. Before initiating therapy for primary hyperlipidaemia the common causes of secondary hyperlipidaemia are sought and dealt with, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, over-use of alcohol, renal and liver diseases and certain drugs. Next, an assessment of all risk factors for CHD is carried out, i.e. family history of CHD, smoking, hypertension, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol measurement, diabetes mellitus and overweight. More intensive therapy is called for in patients with multiple risk factors than in those with lone hyperlipidaemia, and also after successful bypass operation or after coronary angioplasty. Evaluation of hyperlipidaemia in the patient's family is often appropriate. The diagnosis and follow-up of the hyperlipidaemic patient depend on reliable and well-controlled laboratory support. The primary hyperlipidaemias include several distinct diseases that are characterized by elevated serum levels of cholesterol and/or triglyceride with or without abnormally low levels of HDL cholesterol. From these measurements, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are calculated [except when triglyceride levels are greater than 500 mg dl-1 (5.6 mmol l-1)]. Elevated LDL levels are causally important in atherosclerosis, and occur in three disorders: familial hypercholesterolaemia, familial combined hyperlipidaemia and common hypercholesterolaemia. The finding of elevated serum triglyceride without marked hypercholesterolaemia may occur in familial hypertriglyceridaemia and sometimes in familial combined hyperlipidaemia. Elevation of serum cholesterol and triglyceride can have several genetic bases, including remnant (type III) hyperlipidaemia and familial combined hyperlipidaemia. The characteristic feature of remnant (type III) hyperlipidaemia (demonstrated by ultracentrifugation in a specialized laboratory) is the presence of cholesterol and triglyceride-rich very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), whereas combined (mixed) hyperlipidaemia is diagnosed when both VLDL (of normal composition) and LDL levels are elevated. Investigation of other family members is necessary to make the diagnosis of familial combined hyperlipidaemia. It depends on the identification of different lipoprotein profiles in affected members of the same family.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Europe
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / diagnosis
  • Hyperlipidemias / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Societies, Medical