Background: A continuously increasing risk of coronary heart disease with increasing levels of cholesterol has been reported by many observational and experimental studies. However, this type of association has not been observed in studies in the Russian Lipid Research Clinics.
Methods and results: Twelve-year coronary heart disease mortality among 40- to 59-year-old men was analyzed in the Moscow and St Petersburg examines in the Russian Lipid Research Clinics Program. The baseline survey examined 6431 men fasting and free of prevalent coronary heart disease. Lipids and lipoproteins, blood pressure, body mass, education level, alcohol intake, and smoking history were obtained. Mortality follow-up was based on contacts with participants or their relatives or neighbors. Coronary heart disease mortality was analyzed based on risk factor levels and was further divided into rapid and nonrapid deaths. A J-shaped cholesterol-coronary heart disease risk function was present for both total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Further examination showed hypocholesterolemic men to have lower low-density and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, higher alcohol consumption, leaner body mass, and less education than men with normal or high cholesterol levels. When education level was considered, the J-shaped risk function was present only among men with less than a high school education. When deaths were classified into rapid (less than 24 hours after onset of symptoms) and nonrapid, the J-shaped risk function was restricted to rapid deaths.
Conclusions: The results of disclose a sizeable subset of hypocholesterolemics in this population at increased risk of cardiac death associated with lifestyle characteristics.