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With some help from the past, researchers examine role of cholesterol in heart health

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

With the help of decades-old information, a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy has completed one of the most exhaustive examinations of the link between cholesterol and heart health. The findings underscore the importance of cholesterol testing for HDL as well as LDL levels.

The researchers used information from a 1966 study by professor John Gofman. He found that individuals who have higher levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, have a lower risk of heart disease because the substance carries potentially harmful buildup to the liver to be processed. This is relatively common knowledge today, but it was controversial and revolutionary in the 1960s.

The Department of Energy investigators followed up on his research by tracking down nearly 1,900 of the original participants. The new study confirms the importance of higher levels of HDL. While this in and of itself is not exactly groundbreaking, the length of the total study period. At more than 29 years, it is roughly three times longer than any other studies into the benefits of HDL.

Professor Paul Williams, who led the investigation, said that he hopes to continue the study and follow up with the participants again in 25 years to determine the exact long-term effects of cholesterol.
 

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