Poor cholesterol control in young people leads to heart problems later on


A recent study has found that people 45 years and younger with high levels of bad cholesterol have higher cardiovascular risks, including strokes. The “comprehensive” study highlights the long-term risk between cholesterol levels and cardiovascular diseases, by looking at non-HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels in over 400,000 multinational patients, report agencies.

HDL cholesterol is often the good guy, helping to clear fatty deposits in the bloodstream, in contrast with “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol that restricts blood flow and oxygen to the heart. 

Non-HDL cholesterol is then determined by subtracting a person’s HDL level from their total cholesterol number, and accordingly measures all the bad lipoproteins. 

Men under 45, with less than optimal non-HDL cholesterol levels coupled with other risk factors such as obesity, were 29% likely to have a heart disease event or stroke before the age of 75; and for men 60 and older, the risk was 21%. 

Women under 45 and over 60 faced a 16% and 12% chance of the same risks, respectively. However, if their non-HDL cholesterol levels were halved, typically by the use of statins, the men’s risk came down to 6 percent and women fell to just 4%. 

Study author Barbara Thorand, a researcher with the German Center for Environmental Health, said the increased risk in younger people could be due to “prolonged exposure to harmful lipids in the blood” – the risk reduction would be more significant if cholesterol levels are controlled early on.

Most importantly, the long-term nature (13.5 years) of the study and size was important in pointing to the potential for early treatment, asthose with high non-HDL and LDL levels could at high risk.

Cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg, at New York University Langone Hospitals, emphasises good lifestyle choices, diet and exercise in maintaining good heart health, which also could be applied to reducing bad cholesterol levels.