High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is known as 'good' cholesterol and can help ward off coronary heart disease (CHD).
However, researchers have found that a subclass of HDL cholesterol can actually cause harm.
A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that apolipoprotein C-III (apoC-III), a small protein that has been linked to HDL cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, but a lack of the protein can protect the heart.
The researchers followed 32,826 women and 18,225 men for between ten to 14 years and found that two different subclasses of HDL cholesterol have opposite effects on the risk of CHD.
"This finding, if confirmed in ongoing studies, could lead to better evaluation of risk of heart disease in individuals and to more precise targeting of treatments to raise the protective HDL or lower the unfavorable HDL with apoC-III," said Frank Sacks, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at HSPH and senior author of the study.
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