LDL Cholesterol: Too Little of a Bad Thing is also Bad for You

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It has long been known that high cholesterol levels are directly linked to numerous health risks, especially to the risk of cardiovascular disease. High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in particular have been directly associated with increased risk of heart attack. In an effort to combat cardiovascular disease, numerous medications and strategies have been developed to lower an individual’s cholesterol. However, until recently the reverse question was not asked: does low cholesterol also pose a health risk?

We all know the familiar advice: everything in moderation. The results of an important new study regarding the risks of low cholesterol could have quoted this expression in their paper.

Dr. Xiang Gao, professor of nutritional sciences and director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab at Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, led research exploring the risks associated with low cholesterol levels. Their large-scale study was recently published in the journal Neurology.

Dr. Gao and his colleagues examined nearly 100,000 individuals who had no history of stroke, heart attack or cancer at the beginning of their study. The investigators measured the participants’ LDL cholesterol levels for the nine years of the study.

Analyzing the data collected from the participants, the researchers were able to statistically determine the relationship between LDL levels and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. The study controlled such factors as age, blood pressure, medications, and gender.

Most medical advice asks people to ensure that their LDL cholesterol levels remain lower than 100 mg/dL. However, the finding of this study revealed that individuals with LDL cholesterol levels below 70 mg/dL had a significantly higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke than those whose LDL levels were greater than or equal to 70 mg/dL.

The lower the LDL level, the higher the risk. Hemorrhagic stroke was 169% higher among participants whose LDL cholesterol levels were lower than 50 mg/dL compared those individuals whose LDL levels ranged from 70-99 mg/dL.

The conclusion of the team’s research was that balance in cholesterol is essential for optimal health. Cholesterol levels that are either too high or too low increase the risk of serious health consequences. Since the research was based on a large and varied population, consisting of healthy people in a nonclinical setting, the results of the study are highly significant.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility. Part of our success is due to the care we take with our residents’ nutrition. Our world-class culinary team offers a tempting variety of meal selections that are produced under the supervision of a registered dietitian. The result: well-balanced, health-conscious meals that are sure to please even the most discerning palate. And, of course, special dietary needs are gladly accommodated.

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