Ugly cholesterol triples risk of heart disease
People with high levels of the so-called ‘ugly’ cholesterol have three times higher risk of developing ischaemic heart disease.
This is the finding of a new study of 73,000 Danes, which is shedding light on a long debate on this topic.
Cholesterol is divided into ‘the good’ HDL cholesterol, ‘the bad’ LDL cholesterol and ‘the ugly’ cholesterol. It is the so-called ‘ugly cholesterol’ – also called ‘remnant-like particle cholesterol’ – that is the really bad guy.
“LDL cholesterol or ‘the bad’ cholesterol’ is of course bad, but our new study reveals that the ugly cholesterol is the direct cause of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) resulting in ischaemic heart disease and early death. By examining 73,000 persons, we found that an increase in the ugly cholesterol triples the risk of ischaemic heart disease, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscle due to narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries,” said Professor Borge Nordestgaard, chief physician at Herlev Hospital and Clinical Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.
According to World Health Organization estimates, 17 million people fall victim to cardiovascular disease – the most frequent cause of death in the world.
“High ugly cholesterol is the result of high blood levels of normal fat (triglycerides). The most important cause of high ugly cholesterol is overweight and obesity. Persons with high ugly cholesterol should therefore be advised to lose weight, but drugs such as statins and fibrates may also lower levels of ugly cholesterol in the blood,” said Borge Nordestgaard.
The results have just been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.