Medical science always believed that high levels of HDL cholesterol were associated with a lower risk for coronary heart disease and stroke.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often called – good cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol in the blood and carries it back to the liver to flush it from the body.
This link between good cholesterol and low coronary heart disease risk, based on a study from the 1970s, has been widely accepted and used in heart disease risk assessments.
However, that study was based on white Americans only!
Now, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, good cholesterol may not be as effective in predicting cardiovascular disease risk among Black adults as it was believed. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Additionally, higher levels of HDL cholesterol were not found to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease for either group.
Nathalie Pamir, from the Knight Cardiovascular Institute at Oregon Health & Science University and senior author on the new study, said, “It’s been well accepted that low HDL cholesterol levels are detrimental, regardless of race. Our research tested those assumptions.”
“It could mean that in the future, we don’t get a pat on the back from our doctors for having higher HDL cholesterol levels.”
It is currently not clear how HDL cholesterol has a different impact on heart disease risk between ethnicities. More work is needed to understand what’s driving the racial differences in the link between HDL and heart disease risk.