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HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) Metrics and Atherosclerotic Risk in Women


Objective- HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) may not always be cardioprotective in postmenopausal women. HDL particles (HDL-P) via ion-mobility may better reflect the antiatherogenicity of HDL. Objectives were (1) to evaluate associations of HDL-C and ion-mobility HDL-P with carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) and carotid plaque separately and jointly in women; and (2) to assess interactions by age at and time since menopause. Approach and Results- Analysis included 1380 females from the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis; age: 61.8±10.3; 61% natural-, 21% surgical-, and 18% peri-menopause). Women with unknown or early menopause (age at nonsurgical menopause ≤45 years) were excluded. Adjusting for each other, higher HDL-P but not HDL-C was associated with lower cIMT ( P=0.001), whereas higher HDL-C but not HDL-P was associated with greater risk of carotid plaque presence ( P=0.04). Time since menopause significantly modified the association of large but not small HDL-P with cIMT; higher large HDL-P was associated with higher cIMT close to menopause but with lower cIMT later in life. The proatherogenic association reported for HDL-C with carotid plaque was most evident in women with later age at menopause who were >10 years postmenopausal. Conclusions- Elevated HDL-C may not always be cardioprotective in postmenopausal women. The cardioprotective capacity of large HDL-P may adversely compromise close to menopause supporting the importance of assessing how the menopause transition might impact HDL quality and related cardiovascular disease risk later in life.

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