Medical Moment: Understanding cholesterol levels

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:29 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WNDU) - Nearly two in five people in the U.S. have high cholesterol.

LDL is referred to as bad cholesterol, while high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is referred to as good cholesterol. It’s commonly thought having more of the good cholesterol versus the bad can protect you against heart disease, but new research shows that might not be the case for everyone.

How low can you go? When it comes to lowering your cholesterol, you want to lower your bad cholesterol while raising the good.

“Getting the bad cholesterol levels down to really low levels, down in the 20s and 30s, can actually remove plaque from the coronary arteries,” said Steven Nissen, MD, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

Lowering your risk for heart attacks and stroke and...

“Lower and lower levels of the bad cholesterol LDL are associated with a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke,” Dr. Nissen explained.

And higher levels of good cholesterol had similar positive outcomes. But research published in the journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that was not the case for everyone. For Black Americans, higher levels of good cholesterol did not lower the risk of heart attacks. The researchers emphasized the findings mean that lowering your bad cholesterol should be more important than increasing your good cholesterol.

You should also look at other cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Since Black Americans have an increased risk of heart attacks due to high cholesterol, their outcomes after having a heart attack are also not favorable. A Duke study found that African American patients who had suffered a heart attack were almost two times more likely than white patients to die within a year of treatment.