Heart Disease Risk and Cholesterol Levels

Do you take statin medication? If so, when did your doctor recommend you being statins? Was it when your lab results found your LDL cholesterol levels to be elevated?

LDL cholesterol has been the measure used to determine when lipid lowering therapy is needed…and statins are often the therapy started.

Research is beginning to question if LDL is the best measure for knowing if cholesterol treatment is warranted to reduce heart disease risk.

A meta-analysis published in the March 28, 2012 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, evaluated 8 trials conducted between 1994 and 2008 consisting of 62,154 patients. A meta-analysis is simply a method used to compare and contrast results from different studies with the goal of identifying a pattern among the results.

Meta-analysis results found levels of non-HDL cholesterol within statin drug users to be more strongly linked to risk for a major cardiovascular event (i.e. stroke or heart attack) than LDL cholesterol levels.

When you have cholesterol lab work completed, you can clearly see your LDL cholesterol level. Fortunately, non-HDL cholesterol does not require and additional test, just simple math.

Total cholesterol – HDL cholesterol = Non-HDL cholesterol

One concern though about evaluating non-HDL cholesterol to determine if cholesterol lowering therapy is warranted is a lack of guidelines.

For example, with your basic cholesterol panel, the American Heart Association provides standard guidelines.

Total cholesterol less than 200
HDL cholesterol at least > 40, ideally > 60
LDL cholesterol at least less than 130, ideally less than 100
Triglycerides less than 150

There are no such guidelines for non-HDL cholesterol at this time, which makes it tricky to switch to using non-HDL cholesterol as a measure for cholesterol lowering therapy. A developing area that is worth keeping an eye on.

This is just a new side to the “argument” behind the cause of heart disease. Based on what I’ve studied to date, we shouldn’t be focused on cholesterol numbers anyway, it comes down to inflammatory factors.

You can access the free ecourse 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at http://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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