Individuals who have reached 85 years old with low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) have an increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke, according to findings published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers from the Netherlands measured cholesterol levels in 561 participants who had recently turned 85. Then these subjects were followed for 4 years. Over the course of the study, 152 participants died, and cardiovascular disease was the leading cause, according to the researchers.
Results from the study showed that the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) did not influence the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Low levels of HDL, however, increased the risk. The participants with HDL levels <40 mg/dL were 2 times as likely to die from stroke and heart disease, compared with participants with levels >46 mg/dL. Furthermore, low levels of HDL as well as LDL cholesterol more than doubled the risk of death from infection. High total cholesterol levels were associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from infection.