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Lipid Research Clinics (LRC) Prevalence Study (PS)

Clinical Trials URL:
Study Type: Epidemiology Study
Prepared on October 13, 2008
Last Updated on June 23, 2005
Study Dates: 1971-
Consent: Unrestricted Consent
Commercial Use Restrictions: No
NHLBI Division: DCVS
Collection Type: Open BioLINCC Study - See bottom of this webpage for request information


The LRC Program began in 1971 under the sponsorship of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. Part of this program was the Lipid Research Clinics Prevalence Study, a standardized series of cross-sectional surveys of various North American populations designed to determine the prevalence of dyslipidemias and to describe the distributions of lipids and lipoproteins in major ethnic and social groups. In addition to contributing to the aggregate analysis, each independent population-based study was designed with capabilities for separate analyses of lipid and lipoprotein distributions. The participating populations were not selected to be a probability sample representative of the North American population per se, but by virtue of their size and economic and geographical diversity, they provide a useful cross-sectional group.

The Family Study was the third phase of the Lipids Research Clinics North American Population Studies. The Family Study was designed to obtain knowledge of the distribution of lipids and lipoproteins among family members and of the association of familial and genetic attributes to dyslipoproteinemias.


An association between serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease is well established. A system was developed for classifying hyperlipoproteinemias into six types of patterns, as a basis for characterizing lipoprotein disorders. The Lipid Research Clinics was thus created to improve the detection of and clinical management of hyperlipoproteinemias. The three primary abjectives were: 1) to acquire data on the prevalence of different types of hyperlipoproteinemia in various age and ethnic groups, with special emphasis on the nature and frequency of genetic forms; 2) to collect reliable data on the prevalence and incidence of atherosclerosis in different types of hyperlipoproteinemia; and 3) to conduct an intervention trial to determine if lowering plasma lipid levels would reduce the risk of CHD.


The populations of the study fall into three categories: occupational groups, household or residential groups, and school children and their parents. The occupational groups were ascertained through their employers; the household groups typically were ascertained through canvassing of residential areas; and children and their parents were screened by determining the children in school and contacting their parents.


Data from this study confirm findings from earlier studies in developed countries, showing age-related differences in plasma lipid levels. However, for overall distributions, the LRC data showed slightly lower cholesterol and markedly higher trigylceride values than those previously reported for North America. Some variation in plasma lipid values was evident among the clinic populations.

The large number of participants within most subgroups permitted a variety of analytic and comparative studies. For example, data from the large pediatric population revealed a drop in plasma cholesterol levels in adolescent males and females. Males aged 20-50 years had higher cholesterol levels than females in the same age group, and higher trigylceride levels bewteen ages 20-70 years. Numbers were also sigfficient for meaningful comparisons between lipid distributions of females who were taking sex hormones and those who were not; in females taking sex hormones, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were higher for subjects younger than 45 years, but slightly lower after age 45, than lipid levels in females not taking hormones (Circulation 1979; 60(2):427-439).