Cholesterol and Race


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Nearly two in five people in the US have high cholesterol. That is when you have high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, typically numbers above 200 milligrams per deciliter, in your blood. LDL is referred to as bad cholesterol while high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is referred to as good cholesterol. It’s commonly thought having more of the good cholesterol versus the bad can protect you against heart disease, but new research shows that might not be the case depending on your race.

How low can you go? When it comes to lowering your cholesterol, you want to lower your bad cholesterol while raising the good.

Steven Nissen, MD, Cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic says, “Getting the bad cholesterol levels down to really low levels, down in the 20s and 30s, can actually remove plaque from the coronary arteries.”

Lowering your risk for heart attack and stroke and …

Doctor Nissen also says, “Lower and lower levels of the bad cholesterol LDL are associated with a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke.”

And higher levels of good cholesterol had similar positive outcomes. But research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that was not the case for everyone. For black Americans, higher levels of good cholesterol did not lower the risk of heart attacks. The researchers emphasized the findings mean that lowering your bad cholesterol should be more important than increasing your good cholesterol. You should also look at other cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Helping you stay heart healthy.

Since black Americans have an increased risk of heart attacks due to high cholesterol, their outcomes after having a heart attack are also not favorable. A Duke study found African American patients who had suffered a heart attack were almost two times more likely than white patients to die within a year of treatment.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.




REPORT #3053

BACKGROUND: Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body. Your liver makes cholesterol, and it is also in some foods, such as meat and dairy products. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But having too much cholesterol in your blood raises your risk of coronary artery disease. HDL and LDL are two types of lipoproteins. They are a combination of fat (lipid) and protein. The lipids need to be attached to the proteins so they can move through the blood. HDL and LDL have different purposes: HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. There are three numbers that the CDC says every adult (over 20 years old) should keep track of with doctor check-ins every five years. Your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL. And your HDL (“good”) cholesterol should be at least 50 mg/dL in women and at least 40 mg/dL in men. Your total cholesterol should be between 125 mg/dL and 200 mg/dL.


DIAGNOSIS: High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect if you have it. Using data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study, scientists concluded that low levels of HDL cholesterol – the so-called good cholesterol – are not associated with higher heart disease risk for Black people, although low HDL remained a risk factor for white people. This latest research study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, confirmed that LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, remains a reliable predictor of heart health for both Black and white people.


NEW REGULATIONS: After statins, the next leading class of medications for managing cholesterol are PCSK9 inhibitors. These highly effective agents help the body pull excess cholesterol from the blood, but unlike statins, which are available as oral agents, PCSK9 inhibitors can only be administered as shots, creating barriers to their use. Now, a new study describes an orally administered small-molecule drug that reduces PCSK9 levels and lowers cholesterol in animal models by 70%. The findings represent a previously unrecognized strategy for managing cholesterol and may also impact cancer treatments.


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Andrea Pacetti

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