Study: 'Bad' cholesterol may not be so bad for elderly

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Higher levels of LDL cholesterol, so-called "bad" cholesterol, may better for the elderly than lower levels of LDL, according to a new study.

While high levels of LDL are linked to heart disease, older men and women with higher LDL cholesterol levels may have a lower risk of fatal heart disease, says a study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

Researchers at the University of Padua, Italy, studied more than 3,000 men and women age 65 years old or older for up to 12 years and found that higher levels of LDL were associated with decreasing mortality risk in women. For both men and women, the risk of fatal heart failure decreased with higher levels of LDL.

The findings "add to the uncertainty of the role of elevated levels of LDL cholesterol as a risk factor for mortality in old people," researchers said in the study report.