Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Events With Low HDL Cholesterol. The Veterans Affairs HDL Intervention Trial (VA-HIT)

Robins SJ, MD1, Bloomfield Rubins H, MD2, Faas FH, MD3, Schaefer EJ, MD4, Elam MB, MD5, Anderson JW, MD6, Collins D, SCD7 on behalf of the VA-HIT Study Group 

1 Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
2 Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, VAMC, Minneapolis, Minnesota
3 Department of Medicine, VAMC, Little Rock, Arkansas
4 Lipid Research Laboratory, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
5 Department of Medicine, VAMC, Memphis, Tennessee
6 Department of Medicine, VAMC, Lexington, Kentucky
7 Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, West Haven, Connecticut 

OBJECTIVE-To assess the effect of insulin resistance and the benefit of the fibrate, gemfibrozil, on the incidence of major cardiovascular events in subjects with low HDL cholesterol and a broad range of triglyceride values who participated in the Veterans Affairs High Density Lipoprotein Intervention Trial (VA-HIT).  

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS-This intention-to-treat analysis, specified as a secondary objective in VA-HIT, determined using Cox proportional hazards models the 5-year combined incidence of nonfatal myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease (CHD) death, or stroke in relation to the presence or absence of insulin resistance (defined by the highest tertile of the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, HOMA-IR) in conjunction with lower and higher levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The study population consisted of 2,283 men with known coronary heart disease (CHD), treated with either placebo or gemfibrozil, who could be subdivided into groups with diabetes with or without insulin resistance, with no diabetes but insulin resistance, and with neither diabetes nor insulin resistance.  

RESULTS-With insulin resistance there was a significantly higher relative risk (RR) of a cardiovascular event both with diabetes (RR of 1.62 with 95% CI of 1.28-2.06) and without diabetes (RR of 1.43 with 95% CI of 1.03-1.98) than without insulin resistance. Throughout both lower and higher ranges of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, the rate of new cardiovascular events and the reduction of events with gemfibrozil was greater in subjects with insulin resistance than without, despite the finding that an increase in HDL cholesterol and a decrease in triglycerides with gemfibrozil was less with insulin resistance than without insulin resistance.  

CONCLUSIONS-Results show that in VA-HIT the occurrence of a new cardiovascular event and the benefit of fibrate therapy was much less dependent on levels of HDL cholesterol or triglycerides than on the presence or absence of insulin resistance. 


Robins SJ, Bloomfield Rubins H, Faas FH, et al. Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Events With Low HDL Cholesterol. The Veterans Affairs HDL Intervention Trial (VA-HIT). Diabetes Care. 2003;26:1513-1517. 

Last Modified: 2/4/2013