Pitt epidemiologist Rachel Mackey, Ph.D., has found evidence that drugs
that increase HDL cholesterol – often called “good” cholesterol to
differentiate it from LDL “bad” cholesterol – likely aren’t working to reduce
cardiovascular disease risk because the approach they use is too simplistic.
“Cholesterol is carried to the liver for removal from the body on particles
known as lipoproteins,” said Dr. Mackey. “These failed drugs raised levels of
HDL cholesterol carried by these HDL particles, but not the actual number of
particles. My research suggests that you need to raise the number of HDL
particles to lower carotid atherosclerosis and heart disease risk.”
Dr. Mackey’s article
reporting her findings in the Journal of
the American College of Cardiology (JACC) has been selected by the
journal’s editors as one of the
top papers of the year for its significant impact on the field of
At the end of May, Dr. Mackey will be giving an invited lecture on “HDL
Particles and Coronary Heart Disease Risk” at the National Lipid Association Annual Scientific
Sessions conference in Las Vegas.
For more information, read the Pitt Schools of the Health Sciences press
release and Pittsburgh Quarterly article “The
cholesterol conundrum” featuring Dr. Mackey’s research and watch a video
about her work.