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Doctors investigate role of good cholesterol in heart disease

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Doctors commonly recommend cholesterol testing that reveals levels of both good - HDL - and bad - LDL - cholesterol. While it is known that high levels of HDL are associated with lower heart risk, the role it plays in individuals with poor heart health is unclear.

In order to clarify the role of good cholesterol, the National Institutes of Health recently awarded $11.7 million to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic to study it, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The research will focus on determining the mechanism through which HDL is rendered ineffective in patients who have heart disease. Good cholesterol's main benefit is its ability to carry plaque buildups in the arteries to the liver where it is processed. However, it has been shown to stop carrying out this function in individuals with poor heart health.

"The people who have more of this dysfunctional HDL appear to be at greater risk, and you wouldn't identify these people by traditional laboratory tests and risk factors," said Stanely Hazen, who will lead the research, as quoted by the news source.

Certain levels of cholesterol are necessary to many of the body's functions. However, it can lead to complications when too much accumulates in the arteries, according to the American Heart Association.

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