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High Alt Med Biol. 2011 Spring;12(1):57-63. doi: 10.1089/ham.2010.1050.

Lipid profile and its association with risk factors for coronary heart disease in the highlanders of Lhasa, Tibet.

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Section for Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of abnormal lipid levels and its association with selected coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors in the Tibetan population living at 3660 meters above sea level in Lhasa, Tibet. Three hundred seventy one randomly selected male and female, aged 30 to 70 yr took part in the study. Based on the National Cholesterol Education Programme (NCED) adult treatment panel ATP-III 2004 criteria, the age-adjusted prevalence of hypertriglyceridemia was 12.0%; high triglycerides (TG), 33.4%; high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), 4.8%; and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C); 24.3%. After adjusting for age, sex, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, diet, hemoglobin (Hb) concentration, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), an increase in waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) by 0.1 unit was associated with a statistically significant increase in TG, total cholesterol (TC) and LDL-C by 0.25 mmol/L, 0.24 mmol/L, and 0.18 mmol/L, respectively. Female gender increased HDL-C by 0.18 mmol/L when compared with males. Age-adjusted prevalences of Framingham CHD risk score for males and females were 16.3% and 0.6%, respectively. This study demonstrated a high prevalence of hypertriglyceridemia in males, a higher prevalence of low HDL-C in females, and a high hypercholesterolemia prevalence in both genders. However, further longitudinal studies assessing CHD risk factors in high altitude natives are required.

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