The benefits of ‘good’ cholesterol, also known as ‘high-density lipoprotein’ (HDL), are being re-examined after a new study calls them into question. Regularly used by doctors to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, the universal HDL level would prove to be ineffective in preventing the dangers in black people.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and reported by the New York Post found that low HDL cholesterol levels were associated with an increased risk of heart attack in white adults, but there was no The same was not true for black patients.
This discovery calls into question medicine, which until then was based on a study of the 1970s. This analysis advanced that high concentration of HDL cholesterol and low risk of coronary heart disease were intimately linked. However, only white Americans were included.
To carry out this new research, scientists from the Knight Cardiovascular Institute at Oregon Health & Science University analyzed 23,901 medical profiles from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study (REGARDS). Among them, 57.8% white people and 58.4% women. All were at least 45 years old.
The goal for the research team was to compare the risk factors for cardiovascular events occurring in black and white patients over a period of ten to eleven years. “It was necessary to understand the long-established link that points to HDL as the beneficial cholesterol, and whether this is true for all ethnicities”says Nathalie Pamir, lead author of the study.
Until this recent discovery, high-density lipoprotein was considered beneficial since it had been shown to absorb cholesterol from the blood and return it to the liver. The latter could thus evacuate it from the body and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease.
A faulty indicator
“Cardiovascular disease risk indicators that use HDL cholesterol measurements may provide an inaccurate prediction for black patients”, write the authors of the study. As such, current clinical assessments may hamper heart disease prevention and management programs for this ethnicity.
“The study highlights that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and that conducting research more specific to this group is paramount”explains Tara Narula, medical correspondent for CNN. “In the meantime, we must continue to make people understand that a high HDL level is not a free pass”she recommends.
Indeed, during this observation, the scientists found that a higher level of HDL did not in any way reduce the dangers. And this, regardless of the ethnic group.
One thing, however, remains certain: Elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), more commonly known as “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides are modest predictors of cardiovascular disease risk in black and white adults.