Low LDL Cholesterol Levels Linked To Higher Mortality Rate

| January 31, 2014

A new study has linked too low LDL cholesterol levels with an increased risk of mortality…

From a purely physiological perspective, the heart is essentially a bag of muscle that pumps blood around the body. In certain circumstances, the heart can be weak and the pumping action inefficient. This situation, generally referred to as ‘heart failure’, can lead to a variety of symptoms including fatigue, breathlessness and fluid retention.

A study just published in the journal Cardiology assessed the relationship between LDL cholesterol levels and health outcomes in a group of 212 elderly individuals with known heart failure. These individuals were split into three groups according to their LDL cholesterol levels.

1. < 90 mg/dl

2. 90-115 mg/dl (2.3-3.0 mmol/l)

3. >115 mg/dl

Over an average of 3.7 years, the individuals in the first group (with the lowest LDL cholestero levels) fared worst. Those in group three (with the highest LDL cholestero levels) fared the best, and this was in spite of the fact that at the start of the study this group had a disproportionate number of people with severe heart failure in it. 58 per cent of people in group three lived at least 50 months compared to just 34 per cent in group one.

Some argue that any relationship between low cholesterol and worsened health outcomes is most likely due to the fact that long-standing illness can lead to weight loss, and that cholesterol levels fall as a result. In other words, it’s poor health that is causing lower cholesterol levels, not the other way round.

However, in this study, the subjects started out with essentially identical weight and nutritional status, which suggests that the explanation above is not valid here, and that according to the authors, “LDL-[cholesterol] may be considered an independent predictor of mortality.”

Why might low LDL cholesterol levels be a risk factor for mortality? Well, as the authors point out, cholesterol can alter the functioning of certain inflammatory substances (including C-reactive protein and cytokines), and therefore low-cholesterol might lead to a more inflammatory state, which is not healthy.

One very interesting thing about this study was that it found that mortality across the groups was no different in individuals not treated with statins. What this suggests is that statins might be having a direct effect that is harmful to the hearts and health of individuals with heart failure.

If I was to hazard a guess as to what this might be, I’d suggest it could have something to do with the fact that statins are known to have the capacity to deplete the body of the substance Coenzyme Q10, which is critical to energy production in the heart muscle and heart function.

Here's to a healthy heart

Dr John Briffa
Editor
for The Cholesterol Truth



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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


References:

1. Charach G, et al. Low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: a negative predictor of survival in elderly patients with advanced heart failure. Cardiology 2014;127(1):45-50.

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Category: The Great Cholesterol Con

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