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low cholesterolEsther Diaz

CSMS Magazine

Current guidelines recommend lowering cholesterol for heart disease risk reduction. New findings indicate that if cholesterol dips too low, it may boost the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Over a period of nine years, a Penn State-led study examined the relationship between low-density lipoprotein cholesterol—LDL, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol—and hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. The researchers found that participants with LDL cholesterol levels below 70 mg/dL had a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

According to the researchers, low LDL cholesterol is recommended to reduce the risk of a heart attack or ischemic stroke—the latter when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked by a clot. But previous research has suggested a link between extremely low LDL cholesterol levels and hemorrhagic stroke. The researchers found that participants who had LDL cholesterol levels between 70 and 99 mg/dL had a similar risk of hemorrhagic stroke. But, when LDL cholesterol levels dipped below 70 mg/dL, the risk of hemorrhagic stroke increased significantly. For example, the risk increased by 169 percent for participants with LDL levels less than 50mg/dL relative to those with LDL levels between 70 and 99 mg/dL. These findings were consistent after controlling for age, sex, blood pressure and medication.

Note: Esther Diaz is a health education teacher who lives in suburban Atlanta. She is our contributor.

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