Does high LDL Cholesterol cause Cardiovascular Disease?

LDL Cholesterol Study

LDL cholesterol is now in question as a cause of cardiovascular disease in older people. A systematic review of 19 studies involving 68,094 people has found no association between high LDL cholesterol and premature death from cardiovascular disease.

The Results are In

Instead, the researchers found that 92% of study participants with high LDL cholesterol lived longer than those with low LDL cholesterol. Describing the findings as "robust" and "thoroughly reviewed," joint author Dr Malcolm Kendrick, an intermediate care GP in the UK, acknowledges they will be controversial. "What we found in our detailed systematic review was that older people with high LDL levels - the so-called 'bad' cholesterol - lived longer and had less heart disease,” he says. The 17 international study authors also found an inverse association with mortality in most people over 60 years.

Cholesterol Hypothesis Debunked

“This finding is inconsistent with the cholesterol hypothesis (ie, that cholesterol, particularly LDL-C is inherently atherogenic),” they write. This analysis provides reason to question its validity, they say. Co-author Professor Sherif Sultan, professor of vascular and endovascular surgery at the University of Ireland, argues that “lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources”.

Not Everyone Agrees

Not all cardiovascular experts are convinced by the results, with some describing them as "surprising", "completely the wrong conclusion" and part of a "disappointing unbalanced" paper.

Lifestyle an Important Factor

Professor Sherif Sultan, professor of vascular and endovascular surgery at the University of Ireland declares “Altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life”.