Most people hospitalized with heart attacks have cholesterol levels considered “desirable” under the current recommendations. Having a “normal” cholesterol in a society where it’s normal to die of heart disease is not necessarily a good thing.
Image thanks to Alex Proimos.
The current official recommendation is to have a total cholesterol under 200. Over 240 is considered high, 200 to 239 borderline high, but under 200 is desirable. So you’d imagine that the average cholesterol of people who have heart attacks is 250, 300, somewhere in the high range—that’s where it’s dangerous, right?
A major study was published in the American Heart Journal this year. 65,000 people hospitalized with acute coronary syndromes, like myocardial infarctions—heart attacks, across 344 hospitals. Guess what their average cholesterol was on admission. 170.
If you went to a doctor worried about your heart—maybe you have heart disease in your family, or you're feeling your diet hasn't been the greatest—and your cholesterol came back at 170, well within the quote-unquote “desirable range,” your doctor would probably pat you on the back, tell you to keep up the good work and send you on your merry way. Based on this new data, the next time you see them, may be when you arrive in the ambulance if you’re lucky enough to make it that far.
Most people admitted to hospitals with heart attacks have quote-unquote normal cholesterols. Having a “normal” cholesterol in a society where it is normal to… drop dead of heart disease, is not necessarily a good thing. Desirable cholesterol levels leave a lot to be desired.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on heart disease.
Be sure to check out my associated blog posts for more context: Generic Lipitor is not the answer to our heart disease epidemic, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, and Biblical Daniel Fast Tested.