Cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality. A 23-year follow-up study of 9902 men in Israel

U. Goldbourt, S. Yaari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 23-year follow-up study of 10059 40- to 65-year-old participants in the Israeli Ischemic Heart Disease Study found that of 3473 deaths (34.5%) in 1098 (10.9%) coronary heart disease (CHD) was the underlying cause. Total serum cholesterol (TC) was measured in 9902 individuals. During the study, CHD mortality was elevated primarily in individuals in quintiles 4 and 5 (TC levels ≥217 mg/dl). Although CHD mortality increased marginally with increasing TC at levels below 217 mg/dl, this was entirely explained by age and other correlated risk factors in a multivariate adjustment of the survival curves. The 'net' 23-year survival in terms of CHD was 87% in quintile 5 (TC > 241) versus 93% in quintile 1 (TC < 176 mg/dl). CHD mortality was inversely related to the percent of cholesterol in high density lipoprotein (PHDL). All-cause mortality increased only when TC was above 240 mg/dl and in the subjects with PHDL levels in the lowest 20%. Lipids appeared to be somewhat less effective in predicting subsequent CHD mortality than did hypertension and smoking and were clearly secondary in assessing risk of all-cause death. The results raise the question whether intensive treatment for hypercholesterolemia is indicated for men at 'borderline' levels. We conclude that the association between serum cholesterol and long-term mortality partly reflects the role that levels of co-existing CHD risk factors play in prognosis. At the 'borderline-high' cholesterol range, where preventive studies of clinically manifested end points have not been conducted and survival is only martinally jeopardized, the identification and management of nonlipid CHD factors may constitute a primary preventive approach among men in populations with temporal patterns and risk factor-mortality associations similar to the ones in our cohort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-519
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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