High density lipoprotein (HDL) has been known as the good cholesterol in the body. HDL protects against atherosclerosis, better known as hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In a new study, researchers have suggested that HDL may actually contribute to heart diseases in women while they are transitioning through menopause.
The researchers hypothesized that these benefits are diminished during menopause transition probably due to hormonal alterations.
For the study, researchers analyzed 225 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 study participants were tested and diagnosed as being free of any cardiovascular disease at the time of the baseline scan.
Lead author for the study Samar El Khoudary, assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in the US, said, "What we found is that, as women transition through menopause, increases in good cholesterol were actually associated with greater plaque buildup. 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."
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).