In Taiwan over the past decades there has been enormous economic growth and rapid westernization of people's life style, as well as a concomitant rise in coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality and morbidity. Studying the effects of such a degree of socioeconomic development on the coronary risk factors of the Chinese population, an ethnic group long regarded as having a low incidence of CHD, may provide some insight into the etiology of coronary atherosclerosis. Coronary risk factors among 1449 patients (759 with CHD) were retrospectively studied. Diagnosis was established by angiography or a definite history of myocardial infarction in approximately 60% of the patients, and for the remainder, at least by noninvasive testing. The frequencies of dyslipidemia and nonlipid risk factors in patients with and without CHD were determined and compared. The lipid levels of subjects with or without CHD were close to or approaching those reported from the United States. Socioeconomic development and changes in dietary patterns seem influential in this regard. Among risk factors, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and family history in males and, in females, total cholesterol, HDL-C, diabetes mellitus and hypertension, were significantly and independently correlated with CHD. These risk factors are similar to those found in the West; however, there is an important association of serum HDL-C concentrations with CHD, irrespective of gender. This issue requires further study in Chinese populations in other Asian countries.
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