Bad Cholesterol is now Good - Dec092009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 04:59PM
People take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL ‘cholesterol’), however ‘bad’ cholesterol may not be as bad as we think. A study published in the American Heart Journal looked at the cholesterol levels of people who had been admitted to hospital in America with heart disease. The study included 136,905 people – all of these people had their LDL level measured within 24 hours of arrival in hospital.
The graph below is taken directly from the study. I have marked on the graph the suggested ideal LDL level of 3 mmol/l (or 120 mg/dl). We are constantly told that our risk for heart disease is reduced below this level and above this level our risk increases.
We can immediately see that the majority of these people with existing heart disease had an LDL level below the suggested ideal level – LOWER levels of so called 'bad' cholesterol were much more likely to be associated with heart disease than higher levels. This of course is the opposite of what we are expected to believe.
The average LDL level for this group of people was 2.7 mmol/l (or 104 mg/dl). However, the average LDL level for the general population around the same time was 3.2 mmol/l (124 mg/dl).
If people with heart disease have lower LDL levels than the general population, then perhaps we need to rethink the policy of spending hundreds of millions of pounds on reducing LDL levels in the general population.
Carroll MD et al (2005) Trends in serum lipids and lipoproteins of adults, 1960–2002. Journal of the American Medical Association 294 pp1773–1781.
Sachdeva A et al (2009) Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: an analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in get with the guidelines. American Heart Journal 157 111–117