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Elevated low density cholesterol levels may reduce haemorrhage risk

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Higher levels of low density cholesterol may lower the risk of subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), according to a recent study.

The research, published in Annals of Neurology found that elevated lipid levels could lower the risk of the rare type of stroke associated with high morbidity and mortality.

Researchers discovered that a one-millimole increase of this cholesterol was associated with a 17 per cent lower risk of aneurism presence and structure – signifying a decreased risk of SAH.

Yale University researcher Julian N. Acosta said:

“Observational studies, clinical trials, and genetic evidence suggest an inverse relationship with cerebral intraparenchymal haemorrhage, with very low cholesterol levels being associated with higher risk of this type of brain bleeds.

“Last year, a pivotal study published in Nature Genetics also showed that cerebral intraparenchymal haemorrhages share up to 50 per cent of its genetic architecture with intracranial aneurysms and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH). These findings became the basis of our study.”

Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels are generally considered harmful due to the substance’s impact on heart health.

However, some studies have found that higher cholesterol levels can have a neuroprotective effect.

Researcher Natalia Szejko explained that inconsistent results at the beginning of the study presented a challenge to the team.

Szejko said: “Conducting this kind of study is always challenging for several reasons. We had previously explored this hypothesis with more limited data, which showed promising results but inconsistent results when changing the analytical approach.

“Fortunately, completion of large genetic studies of SAH gave us the tools to strengthen our analysis.”

The research team now plans to conduct further studies to support their findings and model how LDL-C drugs could help mitigate SAH risk.

The researchers wrote:

“Additionally, while we provide evidence for an inverse association between LDL-C and SAH, the specific mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unknown, providing a clear goal in terms of next research steps.”

Low density cholesterol foods include oats, whole grains, nuts, beans and apples.

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