John Hopkins researchers recently reported gathering data on remnant cholesterol (RC) from over 17,000 patients. These data support the use of RC measurement as an accurate stand-alone metric for predicting the risk of cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes.
Some researchers are even going as far as saying remnant cholesterol is currently the best way to determine cardiovascular disease risk.
What is Remnant Cholesterol?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine reports, “remnant cholesterol represents the amount of cholesterol in remnant lipoproteins, a form of very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) from which the fatty acids — called triglycerides — have been removed. Along with traditional measurements of blood LDL cholesterol (frequently called “bad cholesterol”) levels, the cholesterol within remnant lipoproteins has been studied as an additional means of assessing a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and stroke.”
The term remnant cholesterol is relatively new and still being researched. Modern researchers have only just begun to explore how to measure remnant cholesterol and determine potential risks.
Johns Hopkins Medicine also notes that “Remnant cholesterol levels are basically calculated as the total cholesterol amount minus the LDL and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol”) counts.”
What is LDL Cholesterol?
The two major types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the body are High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-density lipoprotein ( LDL). Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is commonly referred to as the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
High levels of LDL cholesterol have been linked to:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Other cardiovascular disease risks
Current information on the CDC website even recommends lowering LDL cholesterol as a way to avoid health complications. So, does lowering LDL cholesterol help improve health outcomes for seniors?
Remnant Cholesterol VS. LDL Cholesterol
With a lot of current research going on in the field and the discovery of the role of remnant cholesterol in disease risk, a growing question is: “So, what is bad cholesterol?”
The answer to this question, however, isn’t totally clear. While LDL cholesterol levels have traditionally been a fairly good indicator of a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, new studies are showing remnant cholesterol levels may be a good indicator in cases where LDL levels don’t suggest any risk.
In a recent study of overweight and obese subjects, the levels of remnant cholesterol, not LDL cholesterol, were associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Future research will be focused on measuring both remnant and LDL cholesterol levels more extensively. Triglyceride levels are also an important factor in cardiovascular disease risk and are observed in people with elevated remnant and LDL cholesterol levels, adding to the complication in understanding these disease risk markers.
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