Science & Technology

High levels of HDL in blood linked to mortality

In recent years, nutrition research has linked high cholesterol concentrations to cardiovascular diseases and high mortality rates. It is likely that higher concentration of cholesterol would lead to higher chances of cardiovascular diseases. The latest scientific research states that high-density lipoprotein, which is considered a “good cholesterol,” was found to  have an inverse relationship with cardiovascular diseases.

Cholesterol is the body’s way of repairing damage that happens within the blood vessels, veins and arteries. Because of this repair, the body requires cholesterol to survive.

There are two types of cholesterol that work in the body: low density lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, unlike HDL, can be regarded as the “bad cholesterol.” LDL is produced in the liver. It then floats into one’s blood stream through blood vessels and locates an area that requires healing, such as an open wound, inflammation or flesh tear. The LDL then attaches itself to the wound to assist in healing.

HDL, in contrast, floats around the system and attaches itself to the LDL. It plucks the LDL off to return it back to the liver. The HDL takes the position of watching over the LDL and keeping it in check. Because of this,  HDL is the good cholesterol—it acts like a security clean-up service so there is not an excessive amount of LDL. Having a lot of HDL means that the body is working to keep the halls in the vascular system clean and the LDL in check.

LDL can be broken up into two different categories. Group A of LDL is harmless. It attaches itself to sites that need healing and then get cleaned up by the HDL. The other category of LDL, Group B, is a smaller and denser form of cholesterol that can wedge itself into a crevice.

This could cause issues because small abrasions inside the artery that have this group of LDLs attached make the HDL unable to clean up properly because this group of LDL is tucked into the abrasion too tightly. Because the HDL is unable to clean this up and collect it, it begins to fester. This automatically attracts white blood cells and eventually builds up plaque, which can clog arteries. The end result is a stroke or heart attack.

Relevant to recent studies, a higher concentration of the HDL is shown to have a direct relationship with higher mortality rates. According to a study from the University of Copenhagen,  people with extremely high levels of HDL in their blood have a more than 65 percent higher mortality rate than people with normal HDL levels. The research study analyzed data from 120,000 subjects from the Copenhagen City Heart Study and the Copenhagen General Population Study in combination with mortality data from the Danish Civil Registration System. Participants with high HDL levels had a 106 percent higher mortality rate than normal HDL levels.

Although much more can be discovered in the areas of good and bad cholesterol, keeping higher HDL levels and lower LDL levels is desirable. With time, future studies may discover ways to balance these levels more accurately.

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September 5, 2017

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