The Nation's Health + [Small LDL]

LDL pattern B

Here's a Q&A I stumbled on in the Forum of MedHelp, where people obtain answers from presumed health "experts."


My VAP test results in July 07 identified an LDL Pattern B.
Overall results:
Total 150
HDL 75
LDL 61
Trig 60
HDL-2 17
LP(a) 6.0
LDL Pattern B

Lipitor 10mg
Zetia 10mg
Altace 10mg
Atenolol 50mg
Plavix 75mg
Aspirin 81mg

I had several heart attacks which resulted in CABG performed May 2000. I am a 53 year old white male , 6'1", 190 pounds, exercise every day, watch my diet and feel great. Everything looks OK except my LDL Pattern B. Is there any therapy to improve the Patten B?

Answer from CCF, MD:
Your results indicate an LDL pattern B, which generally indicates small atherogenic LDL particles which may cause increased risk for CAD. However, there are several problems with LDL patterning: 1) its unreliability (of LDL pattern testing ), 2) unclear clinical evidence regarding regarding the usefulness of LDL patterns and particle size. The majority of evidence regarding the progression of atherosclerosis is with LDL lowering and to an smaller extent HDL raising.

All available clinical evidence shows that any particles in the VLDL, IDL, or LDL range are atherogenic, and there is no evidence that whether belonging to pattern A or B one is more atherogenic than others.

Subclass studies have proliferated over the last few years, but many of these studies were funded or subsidized either by suppliers of the assays as a method to expand their use and move them into mainstream practice, or by pharmaceutical companies in an attempt to claim some advantage over other therapeutic agents.
Thus, current data on LDL subclasses are at best incomplete and at worst misleading, suffering from publication bias, and now given the recent results of the Ensign et al. study, unreliable.

Your LDL, and HDL are at goal. The Lpa level is still not clearly linked as a modifiable risk factor for CAD, although elevated levels are now know to be linked to stroke.

Continue with your present treatments: aspirin, plavix, ateonol and altace are all essential medications.

Wow. The extent of ignorance that pervades the ranks of my colleagues is frightening.

Contrary to the response, LDL particle size assays are quite reliable and accurate. I've performed many thousands of lipoprotein assays and they yield reproducible and clinically believable results. For example, eliminate wheat, oats, cornstarch, and sugars and small LDL drops from 2400 nmol/L to 893 nmol/L (NMR)--huge drops. If repeated within a short period of time, the second measure will correspond quite closely.

The data are also quite clear: Small LDL particles (i.e., "pattern B") are a potent predictor of cardiovascular events. What we lack are the treatment trials that show that reduction of small LDL results in reduced cardiovascular events. The reason for this is that small LDL research is not well-funded, since there is no prescription drug to treat small LDL, only nutritional means. Niacin (as Niaspan) is as close as it comes for a "drug" to reduce small LDL. But diet is far more effective.

Given the questioner's fairly favorable BMI of 25.1 and his history of aggressive heart disease, it is virtually certain that he has what I call "genetic small LDL," i.e., small LDL that occur on a genetically-determined basis (likely due to variants of the cholesteryl-ester transfer protein, or CETP, or of hepatic lipase and others).

Ignoring this man's small LDL will, without a doubt, consign him to a future of more heart attacks, stents, and bypass. Maybe by that time the data supporting the treatment of small LDL will become available.