In the old days, doctors measured overall cholesterol and tried to lower that number.
Nowadays, you’re told to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost your HDL (good) cholesterol.
They are even making drugs to raise HDL.
But this may actually not be the right recommendation at all.
According to a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2018, HDL could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
In the study that has yet to be published, American researchers have examined the association between HDL cholesterol and the likelihood of having a heart attack and might lead to death.
They used 5,965 people that had an average age of 63, most of whom had cardiovascular disease or risk factors that could lead to it.
During a four-year follow-up period, 13% of the subjects had a heart attack or died of some other cardiovascular event.
Thus, to discover the role of HDL, the researchers divided them into five groups, from those with the lowest to highest HDL scores: less than 30 mg/dl, 31-40 mg/dl, 41-50 mg/dl, 51-60 mg/dl, and greater than 60 mg/dl.
Those subjects with HDL levels between 41 and 60 mg/dl were the least likely to suffer a heart attack or die from a cardiovascular event.
While it was expected and unsurprising that people with lower HDL levels had a higher risk of these events, the scientists found that people with HDL above 60 mg/dl were 50% more likely than the 41-60 mg/dl groups to have heart attacks or to die of cardiovascular-related causes.
In other words, your HDL cholesterol should be neither too low nor too high.
The scientists could not explain as to why this was the case, but they speculated that such levels of HDL cholesterol high levels could actually be the symptom of a dysfunctional cholesterol profile.
Scientists have also previously found that there were different types of HDL cholesterol, and that only some of these types were considered healthy.
Consequently, it is possible that very high HDL levels consisted of unhealthy HDL types rather than the healthy ones.
The only reliable measurement was to look at the cholesterol plaque buildup in your arteries, which was the plaque that blocked the blood flow and led to strokes and heart attack.