In a blow to the pharmaceutical industry's efforts to harness so-called good cholesterol as a weapon against heart disease, federal health officials halted a clinical trial involving an HDL-boosting drug from Abbott Laboratories, saying it failed to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
The news was a setback for Abbott's cholesterol franchise, especially the drug in the trial— Abbott's extended-release form of niacin called Niaspan, which recorded $927 million in sales last year.
-From yesterday's WSJ.
“Good” HDL-Cholesterol Is Meaningless
The Real Issues: HDL-cholesterol as measured on common laboratory tests fails to help predict your risk of suffering from coronary artery (heart) disease.
Importance to You: HDL-cholesterol can lead to 2 dangerous consequences: 1) Your total cholesterol is high, but your doctor reassures you that there is nothing to worry about because your “good” HDL-cholesterol is also high – as a result, you miss an opportunity to correct the real indicators of trouble (total and LDL-cholesterol) by being falsely reassured. 2) After following a healthy diet (plant-food based) your total cholesterol falls and so does your HDL (a fraction of total cholesterol). Your doctor tells you that you are now unhealthy because of your low-HDL, or worse yet he tells you to eat more meat (cholesterol) in order to raise your HDL-cholesterol.
Action to Take: Strive to get your total cholesterol below 150 mg/dl (and LDL-cholesterol below 80 mg/dl) with a healthy diet (and in some cases, judicious use of medications). Ignore your HDL-cholesterol values – they are largely irrelevant and misleading.