THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
The risk of ischaemic heart disease - a disease affecting some 150,000 Danes - is three times higher in persons with high levels of the so-called 'ugly' cholesterol. This is the finding of a new study of 73,000 Danes, which is shedding light on a long debate on this topic. The results have just been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Most Danes are aware that high cholesterol is life-threatening. But very few know which type of cholesterol is the most frequent killer. Cholesterol is divided into 'the good' HDL cholesterol, 'the bad' LDL cholesterol and 'the ugly' cholesterol. It is the so-called 'ugly cholesterol' - also called 'remnant-like particle cholesterol' - that is the really bad guy.
"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 ischaemic heart disease and early death. By examining 73,000 persons, we found that an increase in the ugly cholesterol triples the risk of ischaemic heart disease, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscle due to narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries," says Professor B-rge 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 emphasises.
Widespread disease worldwide
In Denmark alone, 20,000 persons are diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease every year, and some 150,000 Danes are currently affected by the disease. According to World Health Organization estimates, 17 million people fall victim to cardiovascular disease - the most frequent cause of death in the world.