There is a lot of talk about high cholesterol being the ultimate risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While I think that having high amounts of cholesterol is not beneficial to your heart, I also want to talk about a different perspective. What if it’s not the amount, but the status of your cholesterol that is the most harmful? A new biomarker can potentially predict just how risky your cholesterol actually is. Oxidized LDL-C (OxLDL) is a value that shows the number of LDL cholesterol molecules (the “bad” cholesterol) that have been oxidized by free radicals. By oxidizing these already bad cholesterol molecules, they turn rancid, sticky, and more prone to adhere to your blood vessel lining. Many researchers have confirmed that high levels of OxLDL is associated with cardiovascular disease because of its pro-inflammatory and damaging effects to the blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up). In a study by Huang et al1, the researchers measured blood OxLDL, total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, triglycerides, and albumin levels in 5 different groups:
- 80 patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- 80 patients with unstable angina pectoris (chest pain)
- 80 patients with stable angina pectoris
- 60 control patients with dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid lab values)
- 60 healthy control patients
- Huang H, Mai W, Liu D, Hao Y, Tao J, Dong Y. The oxidation ratio of LDL: a predictor for coronary artery disease. Dis Markers. 2008;24:341-349.