Looking At LDL Alone, Without Factoring HDL And Triglycerides For Heart Disease Risk Shortsighted, Researchers Reveal

Filed under: Study — @ January 30, 2007

A new study on the vital importance of measuring HDL and triglycerides instead of simply relying on the traditional Framingham risk score looking at LDL cholesterol particle size and numbers as predictors of the risk for a cardiovascular event should be an eye-opening moment for those in the medical community still living in the Ice Age with their medical knowledge.

Lead researcher Dr. Karim El Harchaoui, from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, along with his fellow researchers used a relatively new measuring technique called a nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to see if LDL cholesterol could be connected with the risk for a future cardiovascular event in over 25,000 study participants who had moderately high LDL levels in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (aka the EPIC project) that took place from 1993-1999.

In all, Dr. El Harchaoui and his team looked at the 1,003 study participants who developed cardiovascular disease over the six-year study and compared them with 1,885 control subjects to predict the odds of having another cardiovascular event, specifically looking at the LDL particle count and size for measuring taking into account the HDL and triglyceride numbers.

What the researchers found was startling–LDL particle numbers and size were found to be no more predictive of cardiovascular risk than the often ignored HDL and triglyceride numbers. In other words, the general practice of most doctors to zero in on LDL cholesterol particle size and total number alone when assessing the risk for future coronary heart disease issues is outdated and should not longer be used, according to the researchers.

I ran into this very same thing personally last April when I visited my doctor and he expressed his concern about my LDL numbers coming back moderately elevated after using a traditional cholesterol test. When I explained to him how my triglyceride/HDL ratio was outstanding with readings of 72 and 42 respectively, his response back to me literally floored me.

Here’s what I wrote about that experience at the time:

He responded that while those numbers are good and my weight loss has been quite impressive, those are simply IRRELEVANT when you are talking about LDL as a separate measuring stick for the risk of heart disease. He acknowledged that most medical professionals give more weight to the LDL than they do HDL or triglycerides these days and that they want to see that LDL number go as low as possible regardless of what the other numbers are.

Seriously?! Is he kidding me? I’m not a doctor nor do I pretend to understand all the aspects of the cholesterol debate, but that seems just a bit shortsighted to me. Why even measure HDL or triglycerides if they aren’t as important as LDL, hmmm?

Rather than encouraging me with the incredible IMPROVEMENTS that I have seen in my HDL, my doctor dismisses these numbers and even ignores the total cholesterol/HDL ratio which at 3.5 is well within what is considered the “safe” range.

But, noooooooooooooo! It’s all about the LDL and nothing else. Yikes! Has it really come to THIS in the practice of medicine these days that we live in such a cookie cutter society that everyone must be treated exactly the same? Was losing 180 pounds not enough for ya, doc?

Now we have a study confirming it really is more than just about the LDL and that low-HDL and high triglycerides are a good predictor of a very high risk for cardiovascular disease. This is not good news for people who eat a high-carb diet since this recent study confirms consuming all those carbohydrates makes your HDL go way down and your triglycerides go way up.

Just in case you missed the message of all this so far, here’s a recap: Eating too many carbs lowers HDL and raises triglycerides. Having low-HDL and high triglycerides INCREASES your risk for coronary heart disease regardless of what your LDL cholesterol number is. Raising your HDL and lowering your triglycerides is tantamount to protecting yourself from any future cardiovascular event.

Click here to read more about Dr. El Harchaoui’s research and what it means to YOU if your doctor has diagnosed you with high cholesterol.

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