• Cardiovascular

    In the Loop: Sorting Through the ‘Mysteries of Good Cholesterol’

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Every once in a while, a study comes along that leaves you wondering what you just read and what it really means. Researchers at the University of Cambridge published a new study in the journal Science seems to throw sand on the traditional medical wisdom that says high levels of good cholesterol are beneficial for our hearts. "Twenty years ago, if you had high bad cholesterol and high good cholesterol, doctors said don't worry about it -- one offsets the other," Scott Wright, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, tells The Huffington Post in a story about the study. "I never really bought that ... You can have a heart attack despite having a high level of good cholesterol."

We asked Dr. Wright to help us sort through what the Cambridge study means. The study found that "some people with naturally high good cholesterol due to a genetic mutation" are actually at an elevated risk for heart disease.

First of all, Dr. Wright tells us, cholesterol is just one of a "large number of risk factors" that play into our chances of heart disease. Then he explained that "about two percent of the patients in that study had high levels of good cholesterol, but that wasn't helping them, because they lacked a receptor to allow their good cholesterol to dump all of the fats inside of it out of their body." For the rest of us, though, he says, there is some benefit. "For 98 percent of us, high or elevated levels of good cholesterol are relatively still a good thing. It's helping reduce our risk a bit." Read the rest of the cholesterol story.

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