Changing the Landscape of Cholesterol Management Men's Health Highlights CHORI Scientist
CHORI senior scientist Ronald Krauss, MD, has been working at the cutting edge of the cardiovascular research in a decades-long effort to broaden our understanding of heart disease risk. While for years the cornerstone of cardiovascular risk management has focused on reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and increasing the high density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol, Dr. Krauss has through the course of his research been slowly amassing a body of evidence that tells a more complex story.
"It's becoming more and more understood that simply measuring "good" and "bad" cholesterol doesn't give the whole story, even from the standpoint of lipid contribution to heart disease. The science we're dealing with is not black and white, these are complex, evolving issues."
Now, that high-tech research has finally made it from the lab to people's coffee tables, in the January issue of Men's Health that highlights Dr. Krauss's research in its cover article.
The in-depth feature gives an historical perspective to Dr. Krauss's current research and brings the complexity of cholesterol to the general public.
"People are beginning to accept that heart disease is much more refined than the HDL versus LDL story once suggested," says Dr. Krauss. "Science is slowly bringing forward answers as to why some people with normal cholesterol still have heart disease and other people with higher cholesterol levels don't."
That science is finding those answers is a due in good deal to Dr. Krauss's own efforts, including recent studies using ion mobility analysis, a very sophisticated technology developed by Dr. Krauss and his colleagues that is able to produce a complete lipoprotein profile based on the direct physical separation of the particles bye weight and size. (See our previous technology highlight here.)
"The test produces a profile based on the number of lipoprotein particles in all of the major categories that we feel are important in heart disease risk assessment."
As the Men's Health article underscores, the ion mobility procedure has the potential to change the landscape of heart disease risk research.
In a paper published in the fall of 2009 utilizing this procedure, Dr. Krauss and his colleagues were able to show that at least 3 separate clusters of risk factors independently contribute to heart disease risk. Current studies underway in the Krauss lab continue to utilize the ion mobility analysis technology in a variety of ways, including studies of the effects of both diet and newly developed drugs on lipid profiles.
"The new drugs have already undergone clinical trials," Dr. Krauss says. "We're using the more refined measurements we can achieve with the ion mobility analysis to analyze the samples from those trials to better understand the drugs' mechanisms and their impact on heart disease risk."
Ultimately, all the studies are directed at defining the relationship between the likelihood of getting heart disease and the kinds of refined measurements the ion mobility analysis is able to accurately capture.
"By studying the affects of diet and drug treatments and the application of these measurements to heart disease outcomes we are assembling a body of information that will eventually determine how we can successfully implement these measurements in the general population," explains Dr. Krauss.
"We've come a long way in heart disease research, but in order to deal with some of the remaining challenges in the treatment and prevention of heart disease - which is still the leading cause of death in this country - we have to go deeper and understand better the many mechanisms that impact heart disease risk."