Background: Case-control studies have reported that patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD) have a higher proportion of small, dense LDL particles than do healthy control subjects. The extent to which the risk attributed to small LDL particles may be independent of concomitant variations in plasma lipoprotein-lipid concentrations remains to be clearly determined, however, particularly through prospective studies.
Methods and results: Baseline characteristics were obtained in 2103 men initially free of IHD, among whom 114 developed IHD during a 5-year follow-up period. These 114 case patients were matched with healthy control subjects for age, body mass index, smoking habits, and alcohol intake. LDL peak particle diameter (PPD) was measured a posteriori in 103 case-control pairs by nondenaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of whole plasma. Conditional logistic regression analysis of the case-control status revealed that men in the first tertile of the control LDL-PPD distribution (LDL-PPD < or = 25.64 nm) had a 3.6-fold increase in the risk of IHD (95% CI, 1.5 to 8.8) compared with those in the third tertile (LDL-PPD > 26.05 nm). Statistical adjustment for concomitant variations in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B concentrations had virtually no impact on the relationship between small LDL particles and the risk of IHD.
Conclusions: These results represent the first prospective evidence suggesting that the presence of small, dense LDL particles may be associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing IHD in men. Results also suggest that the risk attributed to small LDL particles may be partly independent of the concomitant variation in plasma lipoprotein-lipid concentrations.