Researchers at the University Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that high density lipoprotein (HDL), which is known as good cholesterol, has now been shown to be not so good in protecting women against atherosclerosis while they are transitioning through menopause.
Atherosclerosis, better known as hardening of the arteries, typically occurs as the result of high blood pressure, smoking and/or cholesterol. However, HDL, the “good cholesterol,” has well-documented benefits in protecting against the hardening process, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from more than 200 women in their mid and late 40s who had up to five measures of plaque buildup over a maximum of nine years of follow-up. All participants were tested and diagnosed as being free of any cardiovascular disease at the time of the baseline scan.
“What we found is that, as women transition through menopause, increases in good cholesterol were actually associated with greater plaque buildup,” Dr. Samar El Khoudary, who served as the lead author for the study, said in a statement. “These findings suggest that the quality of HDL may be altered over the menopausal transition, thus rendering it ineffective in delivering the expected cardiac benefits.”