Fascinating piece this morning on findings that cholesterol possibly rises in Winter high enough for people to be prescribed statins, but then naturally drops again in warmer weather. So, your prescription might be based on seasonal fluctuations rather than you having a genuine need for statins (and that’a moot point anyway as we know ;)). The research is being presented shortly at the American College of Cardiology’s 62nd Annual Scientific Session.
It’s been accepted for some time that the rate of heart attacks and cardiovascular problems rises in colder weather and the researchers in Brazil were looking to see if cholesterol follows the same pattern. They studied over 225,000 people in Brazil clinics during 2008-2010. Their data revealed that low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol increased an average of 7mg/dL during the winter compared to summer, which is significant enough. If the person’s cholesterol is deemed on the ‘higher’ side of normal anyway and it raises by this amount in Winter, there is a real possibility they could be given life-long statin therapy for something they don’t actually need.
Quite rightly, the researchers pointed out that we tend to exercise less and eat more comfort food in colder weather – and that the phenomenon is likely to be more marked in colder climates like Europe than Brazil.
Filipe Moura, the lead investigator, advised:
People should be aware that their cholesterol and triglyceride levels vary significantly year-round, which in some cases, may lead to a misinterpretation of a person’s actual cardiovascular risk….This should especially concern those who are near the upper cholesterol limit as they may be at higher risk than expected. This is not to say these patients should have check-ups all the time, but we do have to keep a close eye on them and know seasonal variation may play a role.”
- Cholesterol levels rise, fall with changing seasons (eurekalert.org)