Did you know that certain levels of lipids, cholesterol and triglycerides, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke? A landmark study, called the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study that began in 1948, has identified some common factors or characteristics that contribute to heart disease.
This large, long-term ongoing study has implicated levels of lipids (such as cholesterol and triglycerides) as a risk factor for the development of heart disease:
• Elevated levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol are a risk factor for heart disease; Those with high LDL cholesterol levels are more likely to develop heart disease compared to those with lower levels.
• Having higher levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is protective against heart disease.
• Elevated levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, particularly in individuals with low HDL cholesterol levels.
• The risk of heart disease increases as the total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio increases.
• Elevated levels of apolipoprotein B (apoB, a component of LDL cholesterol) and lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a), a type of LDL particle] are both associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
The Hearty Take
The Framingham Heart Study has been ongoing for more than 70 years and continues to provide valuable information on the risk factors for heart disease. The findings of the study have been used to develop guidelines for cholesterol management and to identify individuals at high risk of heart disease. While this study has provided important insights into the role of lipids in heart disease, it was conducted primarily on a white population and may not be generalizable to other populations. To take precaution, get your lipid levels tested! It is an important step in preventive health. Identifying and managing high lipid levels through lifestyle changes, supplements and more can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.