The Program on the Surgical Control of the Hyperlipidemias (POSCH) provided the clearest and the most convincing evidence supporting the beneficial effects of cholesterol lowering in hypercholesterolemic survivors of a myocardial infarction. In POSCH, 78 of the 838 patients (9.3%) were women, with 32 randomized to the diet-control group and 46 to the diet plus partial ileal bypass surgery-intervention group. At 5 years, the mean per cent change from baseline was -23.9% for total plasma cholesterol (p < 0.0001), -36.1% for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p < 0.0001), and +8.5% for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p = not significant). Because of the small number of women, no statistically significant changes in clinical event rates were observed between the control and the surgery groups. A comparison of 162 coronary arteriography film pairs in the POSCH women, between baseline and 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, consistently showed less disease progression in the surgery group (p = 0.013 for combined assessments of the baseline to the longest follow-up film). Because the lipid and coronary arteriography findings in the POSCH women paralleled these findings in the total POSCH population and in the POSCH men, and because the arteriography changes in POSCH have previously been demonstrated to be statistically significant surrogate end points for certain clinical events and predictors of overall and atherosclerotic coronary heart disease mortality rates, we conclude that the lipid modification achieved in the POSCH women by partial ileal bypass reduced their atherosclerosis progression. The POSCH findings in women support the aggressive treatment of hyperlipidemia in the general management of atherosclerosis in women.
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