Overlooked 'ugly' cholesterol a big killer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 9:00am

We know that high cholesterol is life threatening, but do you know which type is the most frequent killer? Well, there's the good, the bad, and the plain ugly - the latter raising the risk of ischaemic heart disease by three times.

This is the finding of a new study of 73,000 Danes published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Cholesterol is divided into "good" HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, "bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and "ugly" cholesterol - also called "remnant-like particle cholesterol", the really bad guy.

The study reveals that ugly cholesterol is the direct cause of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), says Professor Borge Nordestgaard, chief physician at Herlev Hospital and clinical professor at the faculty of health sciences at University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

"High ugly cholesterol is the result of high blood levels of normal fat [triglycerides]. The most important cause of high ugly cholesterol is obesity," says Nordestgaard.

Most ischaemic heart disease is caused by arteriosclerosis. The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle and no alternative blood supply exists, so a blockage in the coronary arteries reduces the supply of blood, and hence oxygen, to heart muscles.

In 2009, about a quarter of theHong Kong population suffered from high cholesterol. Heart diseases were the second most common cause of death in the city in 2010, accounting for 15.5 per cent of all deaths. According to World Health Organisation estimates, 17 million people fall victim to cardiovascular disease - the most common cause of death worldwide.

You can lower your blood cholesterol level by eating a low-fat diet and keeping your weight in the healthy range.

Nordestgaard says people with high ugly cholesterol should be advised to lose weight, but drugs such as statins and fibrates may also lower levels of ugly cholesterol in the blood.



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