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High good cholesterol linked to long life in men

Men who have high levels of good cholesterol in their 60s tend to live longer.

High good cholesterol linked to long life in men

Men who have high levels of good cholesterol in their 60s tend to live longer.

About 12 million American men suffered from heart disease and stroke in 2006, but high levels of HDL cholesterol may reduce the risks, according to the American Heart Association. Low levels of HDL, less than 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood for men, are known to increase the risk of heart disease.

No previous research has sought to determine whether high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels are associated with survival to 85 years of age. To test the same, researchers from Boston looked at the medical records of about 650 Americans, aged around 65 years old, then grouped them based on HDL levels.

Men with the highest good (HDL) cholesterol were 28 percent less likely to die before they reached 85, compared to men in the lowest HDL group. Starting with low levels of 40 mg/dL, it was found that for each ten mg/dL increase of HDL, the men were 14 percent less likely to have died by 85 years. Overall, 375 survived to that age. Also, fewer of the men with higher HDL were overweight, and they tended not to have more than 2 drinks a day. And fewer of them had heart disease or smoked, compared to the lowest HDL group. These other factors might have had an effect on survival but even after accounting for them, the study still showed a link between reaching 85 years and high HDL levels. The researchers state that it is difficult to change HDL levels, and though exercise might raise it a few points, it isn't a very efficient way to improve and eventually a drug needs to be developed.

It's unclear how much raising HDL will prevent heart disease so whether drugs might improve people's health remains to be seen. This study adds to the evidence that HDL is important for a long life but concludes by stating that it's only an association and does not mean that having high HDL increases life span.
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