Doctors have been warning against LDL, or bad cholesterol while promoting HDL as good. However, new research indicates that patients with too much 'good' cholesterol could be at higher risk of heart attack.
We have all heard about “good” and “bad” cholesterol. The bad one, LDL, is thought to contribute to the build-up of plaques, resulting in an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. In contrast, the good cholesterol or HDL, is said to clear away cholesterol so that it is removed from the body. Studies have suggested that increased HDL lowers the risk of heart attacks. Thus we have all been encouraged to consume more healthy fats like olive il, oily fish and nuts. New research, however, shows that after a certain point, HDL cholesterol becomes a risk factor as well.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dr Laura Corr, a consultant cardiologist, said: “It’s true that very low HDL isn’t a good thing, and the risk of a heart attack lowers as HDL rises. But we now know unusually high HDL in some people isn’t protective and is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. It was a surprise when the research started to show this.”
In 2018, scientists at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta looked at the link between HDL and risk of heart attack in 6,000 patients. Surprisingly, they discovered that there was a spike in heart attacks among those with high HDL. There were more heart attacks among those with low HDL as well, although this was already known.
Dr Marc Allard-Ratick, the cardiologist who led the study, said: “Traditionally, doctors have told their patients that the higher your ‘good’ cholesterol, the better. However, the results from this study and others suggest this may no longer be the case.”