October 16, 2023

Studies confirm an overlooked risk for cardiovascular disease

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“Bad” cholesterol isn’t the only culprit linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a trio of recent University of Alberta studies — including landmark global research — showing that a different kind of cholesterol is also a strong risk factor for people worldwide.

Remnant cholesterol (RC) was confirmed as a strong risk factor for coronary heart disease, heart attacks and stroke, the largest of the studies showed. RC is produced from the metabolism of triglycerides that come from sources of dietary fat and from the body’s own stores of cholesterol particles.

Using genomic data from a combined sample of almost one million participants — spanning Africa, Asia, North America and Europe — the findings are the first to show, on such a large scale, a causal link between high RC and risk of cardiovascular illness.

“This tells us that the health risk posed by high RC is of greater concern than the traditional LDL cholesterol which is our current goal of prevention and therapy,” says Paolo Raggi, senior author of the study and professor of cardiology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

The researchers found that having elevated RC led to a 1.5 times higher risk for coronary heart disease, a 1.6 times higher risk of heart attack and a 1.2 times higher risk of stroke.

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