To Live a Long Life, Keep Your Cholesterol High

It’s a paradox — one of many that challenge our beliefs.

Cholesterol is a word that strikes fear into the heart. But does it also strike disease? Because here’s the curious thing: having a high cholesterol level is associated with living a longer life, especially if you have heart disease. Confused? Of course you are! Welcome to the cholesterol paradox.

The term “cholesterol paradox” was coined as early as 2006 (if not before), when a study of data collected from 24 countries, involving nearly 11,000 patients with heart disease, found that “Low cholesterol levels were associated with worse prognosis in patients with acute heart failure.”

That was just the start of it. Since then, many studies have been published that discuss this baffling observation, one that has been replicated many times.

Indeed, raised total cholesterol has been shown to be a predictor of survival — in a study of 114 patients with chronic heart failure, the chances of survival increased by 25% for each mmol/l increment in total cholesterol. Similarly, it has been found that most — nearly 75% — of people who are admitted to hospital with heart attack have normal cholesterol levels.

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