Study: “Bad” Cholesterol Isn’t the Leading Risk For Early Heart Disease

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Nutrition, Resilience, Treatment

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Metabolic syndrome has been characterized as a “global epidemic,” and its impact is not limited to premature heart disease.

Diabetes and unhealthy metabolism are the strongest risk factors for early onset of heart disease in women, according to a study published recently by the American Medical Association. The researchers looked at the histories of more than 28,000 female health professionals without known heart disease who were participants in the Women’s Health Study. The data they reviewed spanned a period of more than 20 years.

Risk was assessed based on “hazard ratio” — in this case, comparing the likelihood that women with certain risk factors were more likely to develop premature heart disease than those without them. Any ratio greater than one suggests increased risk, but some consider a number below 2 to be weak evidence of cause and effect.

The study took risks associated with aging into account, but even so diabetes had a hazard ratio of 10.7 for onset of heart disease before the age of 55. The hazard ratio for metabolic syndrome was 6.09. By comparison, the hazard ratio for elevated LDL (“bad”) cholesterol was 1.67.

“Metabolism” refers to the various chemical processes that keep the body alive. “Metabolic syndrome”, according to the American Heart Association, is the presence of at least three out of five specific conditions that indicate unhealthy metabolism: high blood sugar, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides and large waist circumference or “apple-shaped” body.

Metabolic syndrome has been characterized as a “global epidemic,” and its impact is not limited to premature heart disease. Fortunately, changes in diet and other aspects of lifestyle can do much to reduce the symptoms associated with it.

A number of resources on the eSavvyHealth website address underlying causes of metabolic dysfunction. You can see several of them here.

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance


The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

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