Ugly Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease
January 22, 2013

Ischemic Heart Disease Linked To Ugly Cholesterol

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

The good, the bad, and the ugly might sound like the title of a spaghetti western, but in reality it is the three types of cholesterol in your body. A new study from the University of Copenhagen shows that ischemic heart disease — is three times higher in individuals with high levels of the "ugly" kind of cholesterol.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, used data from 73,000 Danes to shed light on a long debated topic.

Danes, for the most part, are aware that high levels of cholesterol are life threatening, but few know which type of is the most frequent killer. Scientists divide cholesterol into three types; the "good" or HDL cholesterol, the "bad" or LDL cholesterol, and the "ugly" or remnant-like particle cholesterol. The "ugly" type is really the culprit.

"LDL cholesterol or 'the bad' cholesterol' is of course bad, but our new study reveals that the ugly cholesterol is the direct cause of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) resulting in ischemic heart disease and early death. By examining 73,000 persons, we found that an increase in the ugly cholesterol triples the risk of ischemic heart disease, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscle due to narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries," says Professor Børge Nordestgaard, chief physician at Herlev Hospital and Clinical Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

"I hope that this new knowledge will lead to better preventive treatment, as more than one in five Danes suffers from high ugly cholesterol. We also hope that the pharmaceutical industry will develop new drugs targeted specifically at raised ugly cholesterol levels," he emphasizes.

Over 20,000 people are diagnosed with ischemic heart disease each year in Denmark alone, and some 150,000 Danes currently suffer from the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 17 million people are victims of cardiovascular disease globally — the most frequent cause of death worldwide.

"High ugly cholesterol is the result of high blood levels of normal fat (triglycerides). The most important cause of high ugly cholesterol is overweight and obesity. Persons with high ugly cholesterol should therefore be advised to lose weight, but drugs such as statins and fibrates may also lower levels of ugly cholesterol in the blood," says Børge Nordestgaard.

Anette Varbo, physician and PhD student at Herlev Hospital says that the findings shed light on the so-called triglyceride, arteriosclerosis and cholesterol.

"To be able to examine the correlation between ugly cholesterol and heart disease, we have used blood samples from persons having a genetic defect which means that they suffer from high ugly cholesterol their entire life. The research findings do therefore not depend on their lifestyle patterns in general. Unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, fatty foods and overweight all increase the risk of heart disease, and the blood samples from persons having this genetic defect thus give the most accurate results," says Anette Varbo.