Lipid/lipoprotein profiles, among other factors, are associated with risk of cardiovascular disease. Because cardiovascular disease varies in Asian countries, we hypothesized that lipid profiles differ in ethnic groups of postmenopausal Asian women. To add to the limited body of information currently available, we also investigated the effects of estrogen/progestin therapy on lipid/lipoprotein profiles in postmenopausal Asian women.
The Pan-Asia Menopause (PAM) study was a prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical trial evaluating 1028 postmenopausal women at 22 investigational centers in 11 Asian countries/territories. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three doses of continuous combined conjugated estrogens (CE)/medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA): CE/MPA (in mg/day) = 0.625/2.5, 0.45/1.5 or 0.3/1.5. The treatment period, following baseline evaluations, consisted of six continuous 28-day cycles. Analysis of lipid profiles was a secondary objective of the PAM study. Total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), very low density cholesterol (VLDC-C), triglycerides and lipoprotein(a) were analyzed at a central laboratory by state-of-the-art methods.
Mean concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL-C, VLDL-C and triglycerides differed significantly among the nine ethnic groups of postmenopausal women. This difference was independent of body mass index and age, two factors that also influenced lipid/lipoprotein profiles. Mean HDL-C concentrations also differed, but this difference was influenced by body mass index in a weak interaction. All three doses of CE/MPA significantly lowered total cholesterol. Treatment with the high and middle doses significantly lowered LDL-C, and increased HDL-C, VLDL-C and triglycerides. The high dose produced a significant decrease in lipoprotein(a).
The different lipid/lipoprotein profiles in the nine ethnic groups of postmenopausal Asian women evaluated here suggest a relationship to differences in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease reported for different regions in Asia. However, the reported prevalence data on cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality in the regions corresponding to the nine ethnic groups are insufficient to allow qualitative comparisons with the lipid profiles shown in our study. The lipid/lipoprotein changes in response to estrogen/progestin therapy observed here are consistent with those reported for Western women.