The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of familial hyperlipoproteinemia (HLP) on peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and the extent to which the vascular disease (PVD) and the extent to which the vascular disease is modified by treatment of the lipoprotein disorder. PVD was detected plethysmographically by observing a diminished peak reactive hyperemia blood (PRHBF) following ischemia. The value for PRHBF in the extremity demonstrating the lowest response in 32 normal subjects (age 19-50 yr) was 39.6±1.5 SEM, ml/min per 100 g. Patients with untreated HLP. who had PRHBF below the lower limit of normal, were 2 of 11 type II, 9 of 12 type III, 1 of 10 type IV. As a group, patients with type III HLP showed diminished PRHBF (26.6 ±3.0 ml/min per 100 g, P <0.01). In view of the high incidence of PVD and the striking reduction in serum lipids and complete resorption of xanthomas observed in type III HLP with therapy, six patients were studied before and after 3-6 months of treatment with a therapeutic diet and clofibrate. PRHBF in the most severely affected extremity increased markedly, from 20.4 ±1.6 to 31.9 ±1.8 ml/min per 100 g (P<0.01), indicating a dramatic increase in maximum blood flow to this extremity. In two type III patients with PVD not treated, no change in PRHBF occurred over 5 months. In two other type III patients the PRHBF increased 17% during the first 25 days of therapy concomitant with a 30% reduction in whole blood viscosity. Over the next 120 days, blood viscosity decreased only an additional 4.6% whereas the PRHBF increased 57%, indicating that the observed changes seen in the PRHBF with therapy of type III patients can be only minimally accounted for by changes in the viscosity of the blood. Thus, patients with type III HLP are particularly susceptible to the development of PVD and objective improvement of PVD can occur with medical treatment of this lipid transport disorder.
Robert Zelis, Dean T. Mason, Eugene Braunwald, Robert I. Levy