A high level of so-called “bad cholesterol,” or LDL-C, is the main reason why apparently healthy individuals suffer heart attacks or strokes in middle age, said the report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).
“Atherosclerotic plaques are present in 50 percent of middle-aged individuals (40-54 years old) with no classical cardiovascular risk factors,” said the study.
The report was based on nearly 1,800 people who had no classical risk factors for heart disease or stroke.
LDL cholesterol was the top predictor of arteries that were in the process of hardening, but had not yet caused a health crisis.
“Even in people with optimal blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol, we detected an independent association between the level of circulating LDL-C and the presence and extent of subclinical atherosclerosis,” said study co-author Javier Sanz of Spain’s Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC).
Current guidelines from the US National Cholesterol Education Program describe LDL-C levels that are above 160 mg/dL as “high.”
Those from 130 mg/dL to 159 mg/dL are considered “borderline high.”
Experts should consider lowering these thresholds to improve population health, the researchers argue.
“Although the absence of classical cardiovascular risk factors is linked to a low risk of cardiovascular events, people in this situation still have heart attacks and strokes,” said lead author Leticia Fernandez-Friera.
“We therefore need to define new markers of early atherosclerosis in these apparently healthy individuals.” DM
In other news...
July 18 marks Nelson Mandela day. All over the country, South African citizens devote 67 minutes to charitable causes in memory of Madiba. It's a great initiative and one of those few occasions in South Africa where we come together as a nation in pursuit of a common cause. An annual 67 minutes isn't going to cut it though.
In the words of Madiba: "A critical, independent and investigative free press is the lifeblood of any democracy."
Every day Daily Maverick investigates and exposes the deep rot of state capture and corruption but we need your help. Without our readers' support we simply won't survive. We created Maverick Insider as a membership platform where our readers can become part of our community while ensuring that we can keep doing the investigations that we do and, crucially, that our articles remain free to everyone that reads them. Sign up to Maverick Insider this Mandela Month and make that meaningful contribution last longer than 67 minutes.For whatever amount you choose, you can support Daily Maverick and it only takes a minute.
"Sometimes the best way to help someone is just to be near them." ~ Veronica Roth