It is generally believed that heart attack victims benefit from lowering their cholesterol levels by dietary changes, drugs (statins) or supplements (garlic, bran, etc). Now medical researchers at the University of Turin question this assumption. Their study involved 192 men and 112 women with a mean age of 73 years who had been discharged from hospital between 1988 and 1991 after suffering an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). At the end of 1995 129 (67 per cent) of the men and 69 (62 per cent) of the women had died - about 30 per cent of them from heart disease. The researchers correlated the cholesterol levels of the patients (at the time of the infarction) with their risk of death and found that there was no correlation between cholesterol levels and mortality from heart disease or any other cause. Patients with a level above 6.25 mmol/L (245 mg/dL) were just as likely to die within the study period as were patients with levels below 6.25 mmol/L - or even below 4.44 mmol/L (175 mg/dL). The researchers conclude that there is no association between total cholesterol levels and mortality either due to heart disease or other causes in men and women of age 65 years or older who have suffered a heart attack.
Bo, Mario, et al. Cholesterol and long-term mortality after acute myocardial infarction in elderly patients. Age and Ageing, Vol. 28, May 1999, pp. 313-15