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Cholesterol Plays Role in Heart Failure Risk

Pumping ability reduced in those with undesirable blood levels, analysis shows

TUESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Abnormal cholesterol levels can significantly increase the risk of heart failure, a new study has found.

U.S. researchers analyzed data on 6,860 participants in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study. None of the participants, average age 44, had coronary heart disease at the start of the study. After about 26 years of follow-up, 680 people had developed heart failure.

The incidence of heart failure was:

  • 12.8 percent in participants with low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol. Low HDL is less than 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women.
  • 6.1 percent among participants with desirable HDL levels (at least 55 mg/dL in men and 65 mg/dL in women).
  • 13.8 percent in participants with high levels (at least 190 mg/dL) of non-HDL cholesterol, which includes triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol.
  • 7.9 percent in those with desirable levels (less than 160 mg/dL) of non-HDL cholesterol.

When the researchers factored in age, sex, body mass index, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking, the risk of heart failure was 29 percent higher in participants with high non-HDL cholesterol than in those with lower levels, and 40 percent lower in those with high HDL-cholesterol than in those with lower levels.

Further analysis showed that the risk of heart attack was 13 percent higher in participants with high non-HDL cholesterol and 25 percent lower in those with high HDL cholesterol.

"This study goes a step further in implicating cholesterol levels (both HDL and non-HDL) in heart failure and suggests that cholesterol-altering therapy may have long-term benefits in preventing heart failure above and beyond its effects on preventing [heart attack]," study senior author Dr. Daniel Levy, director of the Framingham Heart Study, said in a news release from the American Heart Association.

The study is published in the Nov. 23 online edition of the journal Circulation.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 23, 2009

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