Just when you figured out the difference between the "good" cholesterol (HDL) and "bad" cholesterol (LDL), British researchers have discovered a third, type that sticks to the walls of your arteries.
The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), found that 'ultra-bad' cholesterol, called MGmin-low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is more common in people with type 2 diabetes and the elderly, appears to be 'stickier' than normal LDL. This makes it more likely to attach to the walls of arteries. When LDL attaches to artery walls it helps form the dangerous 'fatty' plaques' that cause coronary heart disease (CHD).
To the layman, it appears that this is not a new cholesterol, but merely one that latches onto the artery walls with greater strength. But it is a new form of cholesterol as LDL becomes MGmin-LDL. The article goes on to explain how this change happens;
They found that MGmin-LDL is created by the addition of sugar groups to 'normal' LDL -- a process called glycation -- making LDL smaller and denser. By changing its shape, the sugar groups expose new regions on the surface of the LDL. These exposed regions are more likely to stick to artery walls, helping to build fatty plaques. As fatty plaques grow they narrow arteries -- reducing blood flow -- and they can eventually rupture, triggering a blood clot that causes a heart attack or stroke.
MGmin-low-density lipoprotein (LDL) could be a key player that leads to heart disease. The study helps researchers understand it’s the shape and density of bad cholesterol in the body that causes damage and heart disease.
But not everything about this new, "ultra-bad" cholesterol is terrible. Metformin, a drug used to treat people with Type 2 Diabetes has shown promising results in lowering blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. Lowering those blood sugar levels might prevent LDL from morphing into MGmin-LDL. And that is a good thing.
According to the CDC, heart disease is killing one person every single minute in America. If you are doing the math, that's over 500,000 people dying from heart disease every year.