OBJECTIVE: It is well known that total cholesterol becomes less of a risk factor or not at all for all-cause and cardiovascular (CV) mortality with increasing age, but as little is known as to whether low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), one component of total cholesterol, is associated with mortality in the elderly, we decided to investigate this issue.
SETTING, PARTICIPANTS AND OUTCOME MEASURES: We sought PubMed for cohort studies, where LDL-C had been investigated as a risk factor for all-cause and/or CV mortality in individuals ≥60 years from the general population.
RESULTS: We identified 19 cohort studies including 30 cohorts with a total of 68 094 elderly people, where all-cause mortality was recorded in 28 cohorts and CV mortality in 9 cohorts. Inverse association between all-cause mortality and LDL-C was seen in 16 cohorts (in 14 with statistical significance) representing 92% of the number of participants, where this association was recorded. In the rest, no association was found. In two cohorts, CV mortality was highest in the lowest LDL-C quartile and with statistical significance; in seven cohorts, no association was found.
CONCLUSIONS: High LDL-C is inversely associated with mortality in most people over 60 years. This finding is inconsistent with the cholesterol hypothesis (ie, that cholesterol, particularly LDL-C, is inherently atherogenic). Since elderly people with high LDL-C live as long or longer than those with low LDL-C, our analysis provides reason to question the validity of the cholesterol hypothesis. Moreover, our study provides the rationale for a re-evaluation of guidelines recommending pharmacological reduction of LDL-C in the elderly as a component of cardiovascular disease prevention strategies.
Ravnskov, U., Diamond, D. M., Hama, R., Hamazaki, T., Hammarskjold, B., Hynes, N., . . . Sundberg, R. (2016). Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: A systematic review. BMJ Open, 6(6), e010401. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010401