Everyone knows that following a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial for health, but new research shows just how important it can be for cholesterol. The study published in eLife shows how combining healthy lifestyle interventions can reduce heart disease through beneficial effects on different lipoproteins and associated cholesterol.
The fact that following a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for health isn’t anything new. However, this study provides more detailed information on how healthy lifestyles can improve cholesterol. It’s also one of the first to suggest combining cholesterol-lowering medications and lifestyle interventions to gain the most benefits when it comes to heart health.
“Until now, no studies have compared the lipid-lowering effects of cholesterol-lowering medications and healthy lifestyle interventions side by side,” says lead author Jiahui Si.
For the study, researchers used a technique called targeted nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This technique measured 61 different lipid markers in blood samples from 4,681 participants in the China Kadoorie Biobank. Cases of stroke, coronary heart disease, and healthy individuals were all included in the study.
The lipid markers in the blood of participants who had multiple healthy lifestyle habits were compared to those who were less healthy. There were 50 lipid markers found, which were associated with a healthy lifestyle.
When researchers analyzed a subset of 927 individuals who had coronary heart disease and compared them to 1,513 healthy individuals, they found 35 lipid markers that showed significant effects in healthy lifestyle pathways to reduce heart disease.
Combined Beneficial Effects
Overall, it was found that the combined beneficial effects of the lipid changes associated with healthy lifestyle practices were linked to a 14% reduced risk of heart disease. Researchers noted that specifically, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels in the blood were linked to the heart-protecting benefits of healthy lifestyles.
“Using a genetic scoring technique, we could compare the effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs with that of lifestyle side by side in the study participants,” said co-senior author Liming Liang. “Our analysis confirmed that cholesterol-lowering drugs would have the expected effect in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but this is much weaker compared to the effect of healthy behaviors on VLDL cholesterol which also increases the risk of heart disease.”
Overall, the study was able to conclude that by combining lifestyle interventions, patients may be able to achieve great heart-protecting benefits. By combing simple habits and taking cholesterol-lowering medications, many people will be able to reduce their risk of heart disease and related illness. As more research becomes available, specific lifestyle modifications may be able to be pinpointed for patients to follow strict guidelines to help prevent illness and disease.