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Anadolu Kardiyol Derg. 2002 Dec;2(4):315-22.

Managing dyslipidemia in Turkey: suggested guidelines for a population characterized by low levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol.

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  • 1Gladstone Institute, Koç American Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey, and Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


Based on data from the Turkish Society of Cardiology and others, it is established that Turks have a high prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD). Several risk factors are prominent in Turks: dyslipidemia, cigarette smoking, and hypertension. The dyslipidemia is unique in that very low levels of HDL-C and typically "normal" LDL-C levels characterize the Turkish population. The low HDL-C levels appear to be genetic in origin and are largely independent of high triglyceride levels (73% of Turkish men and 94% of women with HDL-C <40 mg/dl have triglyceride levels <150 mg/dl; only 15% of men and 3% of women with HDL-C <40 mg/dl have triglyceride levels >200 mg/dl). HDL-C levels are 10-15% mg/dl lower in Turks than seen in the United States or western Europe. Low HDL-C is a major risk factor; CHD risk increases 2-4% for every 1 mg/dl decrease in HDL-C levels. Existing treatment guidelines focus on plasma LDL-C levels and fail to take into account the continuous increase in CHD risk that occurs as HDL-C levels decrease. However, several studies show that patients with CHD or free of CHD but with multiple risk factors, who have low HDL-C and near optimal LDL-C, benefit very significantly from lipid-lowering therapy. Many of these patients with low HDL-C levels do not qualify for drug therapy based on existing guidelines. Therefore, we believe that unique guidelines must be developed to guide the treatment of low HDL-C Turkish patients. We suggest that treatment based on both the LDL-C level and the total cholesterol/HDL-C (TC/HDL-C) ratio is the best way to address treatment of patients with low HDL-C levels. The most effective drug treatment available presently in Turkey relies on lowering LDL-C levels to optimize the TC/HDL-C ratio.

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