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A better way to measure cholesterol

Measuring cholesterol levels is becoming an increasingly important part of a medical check. Generally, it is assumed that high density lipoprotein (HDL, or 'good' cholesterol) levels should be high, and low density lipoprotein (LDL, or 'bad' cholesterol) low.

At Johns Hopkins University in the US, researchers believe that it is important to measure non-HDL cholesterol too. This is the difference between total cholesterol and HDL. It is the sum of LDL, triglycerides (blood fats) and hence called intermediate density lipoprotein.//

Researchers have found a more accurate way of predicting death from heart disease. In a study covering 4,462 adults aged 40 to 64, increasing non-HDL cholesterol levels were linked to increased risk of death from heart disease.

Men with high levels were twice as likely to die compared to those with low levels. For women, the relative risk was nearly two and a half times greater. They found out that non-HDL was a better predictor than elevated LDL in this study. The researchers suggest that non-HDL levels should be kept below 130 milligrams per decilitre to cut the risk of heart disease.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine

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