Research Article

Contrasting patterns of coronary atherosclerosis in normocholesterolaemic smokers and patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 21 November 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:1358
  1. D D Sugrue,
  2. G R Thompson,
  3. C M Oakley,
  4. I M Trayner,
  5. R E Steiner


    An angiographic comparison was made of the extent and severity of coronary artery disease in 25 patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia and 25 normocholesterolaemic patients with coronary artery disease in whom heavy cigarette consumption was the chief risk factor. The patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia were younger and included a much higher proportion of women than the smokers. Significantly more patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia had disease of the main stem of the left coronary artery (eight v none, p less than 0.05) and triple-vessel disease (18 v four, p less than 0.05). Disease affecting only distal vessels occurred in five smokers, whereas all the patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia showed a combination of proximal and distal lesions. These findings suggest that cigarette smoking and familial hypercholesterolaemia predispose to different patterns of coronary atheroma. Early coronary angiography with a view to coronary artery bypass surgery seems desirable in symptomatic patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia because of the common association of this disorder with life-threatening left main-stem disease.