Relationship Between Cholesterol And Cardiovascular Disease Not Clear-Cut
Strokes are caused when blood supply to the brain is interrupted for a prolonged period of time and may leave sufferers with long lasting disability. Strokes are also a leading cause of death. The most common type of stroke in the UK and US is known as ‘ischaemic’ stroke. Here, vessels supplying blood to the brain become blocked, starving the brain of blood. The other less common type of stroke is known as ‘haemorrhagic’ stroke, caused when blood vessels burst and bleed.
Over time, data on 192 patients who had suffered an ischaemic stroke was gathered. These patients were divided into two groups: one group of individuals who had no heart disease and another group who did. Then the researchers compared a variety of risk factors between the groups to see if there were any significant differences here. Older age was associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Also, high blood pressure was associated with a very enhanced risk. However, cholesterol levels had no association with risk. In other words, neither higher total cholesterol nor LDL-cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of heart disease, and higher HDL-cholesterol was not associated with lower risk. What do the authors of the study make of this finding? It’s difficult to say because, for whatever reason, they chose to not address it at all in their discussion. I suppose it’s possible that the authors are aware that cholesterol levels are not a particularly good predictor for heart disease, and didn’t comment because their results did not surprise them. Or maybe they didn’t want to draw attention to findings which are out of keeping with ‘conventional wisdom’ and are therefore ‘inexplicable’.
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