The unknown cholesterol risk

The unknown cholesterol risk

Without cholesterol our body could not exist. The substance is used as a building material for our cells, forming the basic structure of many hormones and promotes, as a precursor of bile acid, the digestion of fats. Too much cholesterol, however, which is undisputed, is deposited on the wall of the blood vessels and increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Doctors use for decades, cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, reduce the risk of cardiovascular reduce disease. Prescribe these, if a Patient with high cholesterol already on a cardiovascular disease suffering or the danger is so great that he dies within the next ten years. A recent study shows, however, that much more people could benefit from the funds.

Thus, an elevated cholesterol value is influenced especially in people under 45 years of age to develop significantly the risk, in the further course of life a serious cardiovascular disease. The Ten-year risk, which was used by physicians in their decision for or against drugs, is often resorted to for short, is the conclusion of the study in The journal “The Lancet”.

The based on data from 400,000 people from 19 countries

For the study, a Team led by Fabian Brunner from the University Heart &amp appreciated; Vascular Center Hamburg data of nearly 400,000 people, a majority of that came from Europe. At the beginning of the study, the subjects in the Mediterranean 51 years old and have not yet had heart disease. Within the following years in the Mediterranean, there were 13 sufferers, however, of 54,000 in the heart and vessels.

These Figures are combined, the scientists in the first step, with the cholesterol levels of the participants. For that purpose they used the so-called Non-HDL cholesterol value, this includes all forms of Cholesterol, apart from HDL-cholesterol. The HDL carry in the body the important function of cholesterol from the tissues (such as cell walls) to the liver, and there, for example, in bile acids to convert.

The results showed a significant connection between the cholesterol values at the beginning of the study and the likelihood of developing later. Both men and women are more likely to develop within the next 30 years, cardiovascular disease was in the group with the highest cholesterol are three to four times higher than in the group with the lowest cholesterol values.

Risk at the age of 45 years in the case of high cholesterol levels greatly increases

A further, surprising result: the participants under 45 influenced the cholesterol value of the disease risk the strongest. This was particularly true when the researchers considered a longer period of time than just ten years.


Who paid for it?

The study was financed by independent institutions: A research funding programme of the European Commission, the UK Medical Research Council and the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research. A part of the 40 authors of the study, however, has received honoraria from pharmaceutical companies, as it occurs in medical research, often.


For this, calculated the researchers , in a second step, for different age groups, the risk, in the course of your life to suffer. According to the results, for example:

  • A healthy overweight non-Smoker under the age of 45 with slightly elevated cholesterol levels a 16% chance of up to 75. To develop birthday.
  • In a healthy overweight non-Smoker aged 60, with the same conditions, the risk is, therefore, only at 12 percent.

Reason is probably that not only the height of the cholesterol value determines the risk of disease, but also the duration, which is exposed to the body the cholesterol. The only question is: Should swallow this is the reason why all of the young adults with slightly elevated values for decades, cholesterol-lowering drug? How many people would really benefit?

Decades Of Therapy

In a third step, calculated the researchers, such as strong young adults benefit from, if your cholesterol level permanently by one-half reduced. A balanced diet alone is not possible.

  • Statistically, approximately eight women would need to swallow with a slightly elevated cholesterol level for over 30 years drugs, a serious cardiovascular disease up to 75. To avoid birthday. However, this is only for people who have two or more risk factors for cardiovascular have disease such as Smoking and Obesity.
  • In the case of persons with only one or no other risk factors would have to swallow, therefore, according to the calculations, less than 15 women 30 years of medication to prevent a disease. The Benefits of taking statins is, therefore, at greater risk factors is undoubted.

The Figures are, however, statistical projections – in the context of clinical trials, patients have never taken so long cholesterol-lowering drug. For this reason, it is also unclear whether, over decades may be as yet unknown side effects form. This must be clarified for further studies in the future.

To apply statins as well tolerated, and cheap. Occasionally, the funds can, however, increase blood glucose and, rarely, muscle pain trigger. Even more rarely, they lead to a dangerous decomposition of the muscles.

Alone with the diet it will not work

Despite the limitations, researchers who have not participated in the study to evaluate the results of as very valuable: “Everyone knows that high cholesterol with a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke are connected,” said Paul Leeson, Professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford, the study of the “Science Media Centre”. “But what has been shown for the first Time, that high cholesterol levels in people increase under 45 years of age, the risk for problems in the further course of life disproportionately.”

Leeson, it is still too early to revise the treatment recommendations on the Basis of the data. Previously, studies have to clarify how the cholesterol values in young people, lower left, and whether it is really necessary to swallow decades of drugs, he demands. To Use such a risk assessment it is also important to check the possible side effects.

Jane Armitage of the University of Oxford considers the study to be an important further evidence that treatment of high cholesterol in younger years, seizures, heart attacks and strokes in later life protects. But, she is a completely different difficulty: “The challenge is to get people to swallow than many years of medication.” Especially if you feel from the threat of disease still nothing.

What can Affected parties do nevertheless? To take as little as possible saturated fat from cheese, meat or chocolate, and, instead, unsaturated fatty acids, whole grain products and legumes put.