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A snapshot of lipid levels in the Republic of Ireland in 2017

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Abnormalities in blood lipid levels are causally linked with cardiovascular disease and pancreatitis. Data is limited regarding lipid abnormalities in Ireland.


As part of a cholesterol awareness campaign, we performed a pilot study of current lipid levels to preliminarily assess the extent and pattern of lipid abnormalities in Ireland.


Non-fasting, full lipid profiles and glucose measurements were performed in 259 people (32 on lipid-lowering medication and 225 untreated) using a validated Cholestech LDX machine. Untreated participants included 95 men and 130 women, aged 51 ± 16 years.


The mean ± SD, total, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) and median(IQR) non-HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in untreated individuals were 5.0 ± 1.1, 2.8 ± 1.0, 1.5 ± 0.5 and 3.4 (2.8–4.3), 1.6 (1.0–2.3) mmol/l respectively. Glucose was 5.3 (4.8–5.8) mmol/l. Glucose > 7.8 mmol/l occurred in 10 individuals (4%). Using defined criteria for non-fasting lipid levels, 60% of participants had some form of lipid abnormality with a frequency of 47% having a total cholesterol > 5, 35% with LDL > 3.0, 26% with HDL < 1.0/1.2, 33% with triglycerides > 2.0 and 32% with non-HDL cholesterol > 3.9 mmol/l. Three individuals had untreated LDL > 5 mmol/l (i.e. a ratio of 1:75 of those tested) and eight people had HDLc < 0.7 (1:28) and four had triglyceride above 7.3 mmol/l (1:56).


This pilot study reveals significant lipid abnormalities which require further larger more detailed lipid studies to assess the true burden of lipid abnormalities in Ireland. Cascade screening and genetic testing of relatives of those with severe lipid abnormalities should be considered.

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We are grateful to the Communications department, CEO and staff of Tallaght Hospital for their assistance with the cholesterol campaign and lipid testing approval. We acknowledge Alere/Abbot Laboratories for the provision of test cassettes and Cholestech LDX machines used to complete the lipid testing on site. We also appreciate the support from the various venues used for cholesterol testing. Special thanks to the Meath Foundation and Sanofi Ireland for their ongoing support for the Advanced Lipid Management And Research (ALMAR) Centre at Tallaght hospital and the Irish Lipid Network. The public awareness campaign would not have been possible without generous coverage from numerous national and local newspapers and radio stations as well as RTE news.

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Correspondence to Vincent Maher.

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Agar, R., Markham, C., Prendergast, M. et al. A snapshot of lipid levels in the Republic of Ireland in 2017. Ir J Med Sci 188, 241–247 (2019).

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