The risk of heart disease can be exacerbated by a newly discovered form of “ultra-bad” cholesterol, researchers have said.
Scientists at the University of Warwick said this type of fatty deposit is more likely to attach itself to the walls of arteries because it has a stickier consistency than the normal “bad” cholesterol.
The usual harmful cholesterol - called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - contributes to fatty deposits in arteries that can spark strokes or heart attacks. As the deposits build up they block part of the artery, reducing blood flow and eventually rupturing. The rupture causes the blood clot behind a heart attack or stroke.
The new, more harmful type, has smaller and denser sugary molecules. Known as MGmin-LDL, the “ultra-bad” cholesterol’s different shape means areas that stick easily to artery walls are exposed and a starting point for the plaques to build up and block arteries is easily created.
The discovery could explain why the common diabetes drug Metformin seems to reduce the risk of patients having a heart attack. It is thought the drug to lower blood glucose levels could stop LDL turning into MGmin-LDL.