High Levels of "Good" Cholesterol May Be a Bad Thing

| Feb 16, 2008

That ancient Greek advice, "moderation in all things," may apply not only to human conduct, but also to the natural world.

A Dutch research study suggests that high levels of "good" HDL cholesterol are not so good - in fact, they may actually increase the risk of a cardiovascular event.

That conclusion comes from the Academic Medical Center in the Netherlands. Scientists there analyzed data from a study involving almost 8,900 patients to assess the benefits of high-dose statin therapy for preventing the recurrence of coronary events.

What the researchers found was that very high levels of HDL cholesterol were tied to increased risk of a major cardiovascular event. After adjusting for other factors, they found each 12-point increase in HDL cholesterol raised that risk by 21 percent.

On the other hand, the study found that apolipoprotein A-I, the major protein component of HDL, continues to be linked to a reduced risk of coronary disease, even at high levels.

In an editorial commenting on the findings, Dr. Jacques Genest of McGill University in Montreal writes, "First, naturally occurring high levels of HDL cholesterol may not protect against heart disease, and second, and herein lies the most important and provocative finding, HDL cholesterol as a therapeutic goal may be fraught with potential dangers."

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, February, 2008

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Posted by Rick on 17 February 2008

My hdl levels have been consistently high, ranging from 65 to 85, for years. I recently had a cardiac cath and they found my heart to be in good condition for a 60 year old man that's lived with diabetes for 41 years. I attribute this to years of vigorous exercise. I wish these people would come to some kind of agreement on these issues and quit confusing the hell out of people! For years people were afraid to eat an egg. Now they're okay. Before you know it they'll say "hey, forget everything we've ever said about smoking. It's harmless! And then I can think about all those good cigars I could have enjoyed while reading the latest bestseller. Give me a break!

Posted by cgentry@dirtware.net on 21 February 2008

Would like to have seen some values attached to the HDL and LDL. Especially the HDL, what is considered too high for this report? I too have what is considered really good HDLs/ but lousy LDLs. Also Diabetic, suffered heart attack, stent placement. Interesting, need more information. Sacramento CA

Posted by Florian on 21 February 2008

What's going on here? I'm really going down hill. I recently had a lipid profile and my HDL was 83. I'm a 70 year young male and I've been a practicing T1 for 40 years. I recently had a stress test and ultrasound done and the heart appears to be working fine.
I do a stenuous weight training workout twice a week and cardio on an elliptical machine twice a week. I'm just trying to stay healthy until they find a cure.

Posted by Pauline Barrett on 21 February 2008

Have to agree with previous writers. My HDLs have been between 60 and 70 my entire life (i'm 65), and have been diabetic for 9 years. Though other lipid measurements bounce around, and hypertension is under control with meds, I always felt that high HDLs were my "ace in the hole." I still do. Research reports such as the one mentioned above fell short of being believable. I'd prefer a scientific abstract, or the citation of the published (and adjudicated) research.

Posted by Anonymous on 22 February 2008

This is the first negative study to my knowledge on HDL and increa sing risk of heart disease. I would like to see a follow up article from a lipid specialist/researcher that can review all of the positive studies on HDL and how we cannot throw out years of positive research based on one negative study.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 February 2008

I would also like to see a follow up on this article, my recent HDL was 111 LDL 89 I have had diabetes for 40 years, now 50 years old.
My Doctor said this was excellent.

Posted by Ladybird on 26 February 2008

Yes, it's a vote on a follow up on this article, please! It's not making sense to most of us.


Posted by Reba on 28 February 2008

Well this is just great news. Two years ago my doc applauded me for having HDL of 80, he said he was envious of my lipid profile. I do take fish oil, am not overweight and have no other health problems I know of except DM in my family. I think I better schedule an appointment to talk about this. I wish there were a consensus about something in medicine :)

Posted by Anonymous on 3 March 2008

I'm a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. I always tell my patients that HDLs are your clean-up trucks. My question is whether alcohol was accounted for in this study. I find that people who drink daily tend to have higher HDLs but also higher blood pressures so I don't recommend it. Could this be the reason for the higher morbidity?

Posted by Anonymous on 6 March 2008

The article says they were investigating effects of "high-dose statin therapy." It is unfortunate that the research was not presented, but, it seems to me that the best the study could show is a correlation between HDL + High-dose Statins and coronary events. Thus, for those with high HDL who are not on "high dose statins," I think the conventional wisdom (high HDL is good) remains intact.
My 2 cents anyway...

Posted by Anonymous on 5 June 2008

My previous cholesterol was 220 with hdl of 120. A year later, I was at 259 with hdl of 111. I was eating more chocolate, having bread, and eating too much ice cream. My ratios for the last 2 years were 1.9, and 2.3. My doctor is threatening me with possible medication if I don't watch it. Watch what? People with normal and low cholesterols have more heart attacks. I've read that the you live the longest with higher cholesterol and higher hdl. If I eat grains and sugars, my cholesterol goes into the 300's, and my hdl goes down. I won't take their meds, because that's what will kill me sooner, by giving me more problems. All meds are toxic to the body and should be used temporarily to get you out of immediate danger. They should not be used as a crutch so you can eat unconcously.

Posted by Anonymous on 24 August 2008

I need to see more studies.

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