Why Very Low ‘Bad’ Cholesterol Levels Could Be Bad For You

Health experts have been warning people about the negative effects of high levels of cholesterol in the body. It has been widely linked to increased risk of heart disease and early death. 

However, a new study of the health of nearly 100,000 people warns that you should not completely eliminate cholesterol from your body. Extremely low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol could increase the risk of stroke. 

The study, published in the journal Neurology, supports the findings of an earlier research that found very low levels of bad cholesterol could trigger hemorrhagic or bleeding stroke in middle-aged women. The latest findings also suggest that lack of bad cholesterol negatively affects men, Medical News Today reported Friday

The researchers followed 96,043 participants who never experienced stroke, heart attack or cancer prior to the study. Each participant was observed for nine years using their medical records to see their cholesterol levels and health.

The researchers said the people who had bad cholesterol levels below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) showed a significantly higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke compared to people who maintained greater than or equal to 70 mg/dl.

However, the participants with cholesterol levels below 50 mg/dl had 169 percent higher risk of having a bleeding stroke. 

"Traditionally, an LDL cholesterol level of more than 100 mg/dl had been considered as optimal for the general population and lower in individuals at elevated risk of heart disease," Xiang Gao, associate professor of nutritional sciences and director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab at Penn State University, said. "This observation, if confirmed, has important implications for treatment targets."

Gao noted that moderation plays an important role in avoiding stroke. People should take diets with balanced cholesterol, may it be bad or good cholesterol. 

"You can't go to either extreme — too high or too low," Gao said. "And, if you're at a high risk for hemorrhagic stroke due to family history or risk factors like high blood pressure and heavy alcohol drinking, you may want to be extra careful about LDL cholesterol levels," continues the senior author.

Patient Study warns extremely low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol could increase the risk of stroke. Pixabay