Iatrogenic Severe Depression of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol

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The authors present 5 cases of paradoxical depression of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol induced by fibrate drugs. In a 24-month review of all cases seen in one physician's practice at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre Lipid Clinic, 492 patients made a total of 1187 visits. Sixty-eight of them were given a fibrate drug (14%). Ten patients had HDL cholesterol levels that were less than 0.5 mmol/L (2%), and of these, 5 cases were due to exposure to fenofibrate (1%). These 5 cases comprised 7.4% of the 68 patients who were given any fibrate drug during that period. Mean levels were as follows: HDL cholesterol on fenofibrate 0.27, off fenofibrate 1.0 mmol/L and apo A1 on fenofibrate 0.41, off fenofibrate 1.17 g/L. A literature review revealed documented cases in 37 patients involving fibrates alone or in combination with other drugs known to cause decreased HDL cholesterol levels. In 13 patients, exposure was to fibrate therapy alone; in those exposed to combinations, the effect was clearly attributable to fibrates in 9; in 14, the nonfibrates (mostly rosiglitazone) were the attributable drugs; and in 1, it was impossible to tell. Thus, fibrate therapy should always be suspected as a cause of profoundly depressed HDL cholesterol.

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