A new study published in The Lancet has found that HDL (good) cholesterol levels had no correlation with the potential for heart disease; this perhaps explains why drugs designed to raise HDL cholesterol levels have not been successful at decreasing cardiovascular risk in clinical trials.
Genes, apparently, are a big determinant as to whether one has high or low HDL/LDL cholesterol levels, which can lead to doctors being mislead about the state of your heart health and the potential risk for heart disease. Cholesterol level medications may not be more important than diet and exercise!
LDL cholesterol levels have already been lampooned in similar research. Previously, doctors strongly advised patients to go on diets to reduce their cholesterol levels, but since the liver is in charge of manufacturing LDL cholesterol, diet did not have as much of an effect of how much the liver was producing, and other mechanisms are now being researched.
The news about cholesterol levels is not being taken at face value, of course. For doctors and scientists, cholesterol levels are still one of the few indicators of heart health they have. Scientists are going to begin looking more closely at HDL and LDL cholesterol, and exploring whether subtypes have stronger influences that cholesterol levels as a whole.
Eating right, exercising, and avoiding chronic stress are the most important things you can do for you heart—just don’t rely on your cholesterol levels to tell you if you’re doing it right!
What do you think? Has anyone had cholesterol levels either a good or bad indicator of heart health?