Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is known as "bad" cholesterol, is one of the major factors that affect risk of heart attack and strokes.
LDL cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol because it causes fat to build up in the arteries. High LDL cholesterol is widely accepted to be dangerous, but researchers are now saying that very low levels can also increase the risk for hemorrhagic stroke.
New Study Shows Risk Of Low Cholesterol
According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, women with LDL cholesterol levels of 70 mg/dL or lower may be more than twice at risk of suffering a hemorrhagic stroke than women with LDL cholesterol levels between 100 and 130 mg/dL.
Women measured with the lowest triglyceride levels, which is a fat in the blood, are also found with a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke when compared with those with the highest triglyceride levels.
"Strategies to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, like modifying diet or taking statins, are widely used to prevent cardiovascular disease," Pamela Rist, ScD, study author from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the American Academy of Neurology, explains in a statement. "But our large study shows that in women, very low levels may also carry some risks."
Rist explains that women already have a higher risk of stroke than men. Part of the reason for this is because women generally live longer. Therefore, it's very important to find ways to reduce the risks of strokes in women.
The study analyzed data from 27,937 women who are all 45 years old and older, following up at an average of 19 years later to check how many of the participants ended up with a hemorrhagic stroke.
Hemorrhagic Strokes And Moving Forward
Hemorrhagic strokes are also called bleeding strokes. While it's less common than ischemic strokes, which blocks blood flow to the brain, it's also more deadly because it's much more difficult to treat.
"Women with very low LDL cholesterol or low triglycerides should be monitored by their doctors for other stroke risk factors that can be modified, like high blood pressure and smoking," Rist explains, adding that there should be more research completed to determine various ways of decreasing the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in women who have low LDL and triglycerides.
For the recent study, the levels of cholesterol and triglyceride were measured just once at the beginning of the study. A good number of the participants are already menopausal at the time their levels were taken, so researchers were not able to check whether menopause influenced the results.