‘No evidence’ high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol cause heart disease, doctors claim


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DOCTORS have found there is no evidence of a link between high levels of bad cholesterol and heart disease, a study says.

And with this claim, a number of leading cardiologists say statins, taken by millions of people to tackle cholesterol, don’t have any benefit.

Their findings, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, suggest the drugs won’t treat heart disease, as they say high bad cholesterol levels don’t necessarily lead to heart disease.

The 17 physicians from across the world appear to have dispelled the theory that there are links between having high LDL-C levels – known as bad cholesterol – and fatty deposits that clog arteries.

Experts have clashed for years as they argue both for and against statins and their effect.

But while they do agree that they are a lifesaver for people who have already had a heart attack, the study based on about 1.3 million patients’ data indicates it could be of no use as a preventative measure.


CHOLESTEROL is a fatty substance or lipid that’s vital to the body’s function.

It’s mainly made in the liver but is also found in some foods.

High cholesterol levels can have a negative effect on your health, increasing your risk of serious conditions, according to the NHS.

Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins, when the two combine they’re called lipoproteins.

There are two types of cholesterol:

‘Good’ cholesterol 

Also known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL, it carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver.

Back in the liver it’s either broken down or passed out the body as a waste product.

For this reason, HDL is considered “good”, because higher levels aren’t as bad – getting flushed out of the body.

‘Bad’ cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carried cholesterol to the cells that need it.

But when there’s too much cholesterol it starts to build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries, the NHS states.

For this reason, it’s known as “bad” cholesterol.

To find out if you have high HDL or LDL levels, your GP can perform a simple blood test.

The scientists, from the UK, US, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, France and Japan wrote: “We suggest clinicians should abandon the use of statins and PCSK-9 inhibitors.”

Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS cardiologist not involved in the study, told MailOnline: “Having reviewed the totality of the evidence, in my view the only people that should be offered statins are those with established heart disease risk.

“For everyone else, the tens of millions taking the drug worldwide who don’t fall into these categories, they should know statins won’t help them live one day longer.”

Up to six million adults in the UK take statins with the aim of lowering their cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Doctors clash over the use of the drugs, with some claiming they should be prescribed more widely to prevent thousands of deaths, whereas other say they are overused.

The drugs are not effective at reducing heart disease and stroke among certain groups of elderly people, the major study suggested.

The new study, published in The British Medical Journal, assessed whether statins reduce cardiovascular disease and death in those aged between 75 and 85 years old.

The findings “do not support the widespread use of statins in old populations,” the authors said.

Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield who was not involved in the study, said: “Due to its design this study cannot tell us whether or not statins reduce death or cardiovascular disease in older people.

“This study doesn’t help me decide whether or not an elderly person should go on a statin, which as always should be a joint decision between patient and doctor based on a clear and open discussion about what benefits and risks are involved and include discussion about the other ways risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced, such as physical activity and diet.”


On – 17 Sep, 2018 By Ellie Cambridge

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