BACKGROUND: Total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) measurements are central to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment, but there is continuing debate around the utility of other lipids for risk prediction.
METHODS: Participants from UK Biobank without baseline CVD and not taking statins, with relevant lipid measurements (n=346 686), were included in the primary analysis. An incident fatal or nonfatal CVD event occurred in 6216 participants (1656 fatal) over a median of 8.9 years. Associations of nonfasting lipid measurements (total cholesterol, HDL-C, non-HDL-C, direct and calculated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C], and apolipoproteins [Apo] A1 and B) with CVD were compared using Cox models adjusting for classical risk factors, and predictive utility was determined by the C-index and net reclassification index. Prediction was also tested in 68 649 participants taking a statin with or without baseline CVD (3515 CVD events).
RESULTS: ApoB, LDL-C, and non-HDL-C were highly correlated (r>0.90), while HDL-C was strongly correlated with ApoA1 (r=0.92). After adjustment for classical risk factors, 1 SD increase in ApoB, direct LDL-C, and non-HDL-C had similar associations with composite fatal/nonfatal CVD events (hazard ratio, 1.23, 1.20, 1.21, respectively). Associations for 1 SD increase in HDL-C and ApoA1 were also similar (hazard ratios, 0.81 [both]). Adding either total cholesterol and HDL-C, or ApoB and ApoA, to a CVD risk prediction model (C-index, 0.7378) yielded similar improvement in discrimination (C-index change, 0.0084; 95% CI, 0.0065, 0.0104, and 0.0089; 95% CI, 0.0069, 0.0109, respectively). Once total and HDL-C were in the model, no further substantive improvement was achieved with the addition of ApoB (C-index change, 0.0004; 95% CI, 0.0000, 0.0008) or any measure of LDL-C. Results for predictive utility were similar for a fatal CVD outcome, and in a discordance analysis. In participants taking a statin, classical risk factors (C-index, 0.7118) were improved by non-HDL-C (C-index change, 0.0030; 95% CI, 0.0012, 0.0048) or ApoB (C-index change, 0.0030; 95% CI, 0.0011, 0.0048). However, adding ApoB or LDL-C to a model already containing non-HDL-C did not further improve discrimination.
CONCLUSIONS: Measurement of total cholesterol and HDL-C in the nonfasted state is sufficient to capture the lipid-associated risk in CVD prediction, with no meaningful improvement from addition of apolipoproteins, direct or calculated LDL-C.