Eur J Clin Invest 2010; 40 (6): 483–489
Background We recently reported high high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol as a predictor of recurrent risk in a subgroup of postinfarction patients defined by hypercholesterolemia and high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. We investigated whether a similar high-risk subgroup might exist for incident cardiovascular disease.
Material and Methods A graphical exploratory data analysis tool was used to identify high-risk subgroups in a male population-based cohort (n = 3405) from the prevention of renal and vascular end-stage disease study by generating 3-dimensional mappings of risk over the HDL-cholesterol/CRP domain with subsequent use of Kaplan–Meier analysis to verify high-risk. Within-subgroup risk was assessed using Cox proportional hazards regression and Kaplan–Meier analysis.
Results Mappings revealed two high-risk subgroups: a low HDL-cholesterol/high CRP subgroup and a high HDL-cholesterol/high CRP subgroup. The low HDL-cholesterol subgroup demonstrated a pattern of metabolic syndrome dyslipidemia contrasted with a predominantly unremarkable biomarker pattern for the high HDL-cholesterol subgroup. However, in the high HDL-cholesterol subgroup, CRP levels were higher than the low HDL-cholesterol subgroup; and within the high HDL-cholesterol subgroup, CRP predicted risk. Moreover, in the high HDL-cholesterol subgroup, risk was associated with lower triglyceride levels in conjunction with presumptively larger HDL particles.
Conclusions High HDL-cholesterol and high CRP levels define a subgroup of men at high-risk for incident cardiovascular disease. High HDL cholesterol-associated risk likely relates to impaired HDL particle remodelling in the setting of inflammation. This approach may facilitate identification of additional inflammation-related mechanisms underlying high HDL cholesterol-associated risk; and potentially influence management of such patients.