Plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor VIIc and prothrombin fragment F1+2, a marker of thrombin generation in vivo, were studied in 68 subjects with serum total cholesterol (TC) levels between 135 and 349 mg/dl but without clinical evidence of cardiovascular disease and other atherosclerotic risk factors. F1+2 plasma levels were directly correlated with TC (p < 0.0004), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C; p < 0.0018) and factor VIIc (p < 0.024). Thirty-five subjects with TC greater than 249 mg/dl (median value of the whole group) showed higher levels of Fl+2 (p < 0.0001) and fibrinogen (p < 0.0015) than those with TC lower than 249 mg/dl. In subjects with TC > 249 mg/dl and Fl+2 > 1.2 nM (median value of the whole group), a cholesterol-lowering drug (simvastatin) was able to reduce Fl +2 (p < 0.009) as well as TC and LDL-C. This study shows a relationship between serum cholesterol and the rate of thrombin generation supporting the hypothesis that a hypercoagulable state may occur in hypercholesterolemic subjects before the onset of clinical evidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

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