New research by Prof John Danesh, Dr Joanna Howson, Dr Adam Butterworth, and others shows that high levels of 'good' high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) do not always lower the risk of heart disease.
The findings, published this week in Science, will help scientists develop new heart disease treatments that target how HDL-C is handled, helping to reduce their risk of a heart attack. Researchers may also now move away from developing potentially ineffective HDL-raising drugs towards more targeted approaches to treat heart disease.
The international study group have found a mutation in a gene called SCARB1, associated with high HDL levels and an increased risk of heart disease in people with this mutation.
They found that this mutation increased the relative risk of coronary heart disease in these people by up to 80 per cent – a increase almost as high as that caused by smoking or diabetes.