Cholesterol goes up post-menopause, reveals new study

Higher cholesterol increases risk of heart disease and stroke. (AFP Relaxnews pic)

SYDNEY: Australian researchers are advising post-menopausal women to keep an eye on their cholesterol, after finding that levels appear to increase after menopause.

Carried out by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), the new study analysed 66 studies which looked at cholesterol levels of 68,394 pre-menopausal women and 46,261 post-menopausal, a total of 114,655 participants.

The findings, published in the journal Menopause, showed post-menopausal women had significantly higher cholesterol levels than pre-menopausal women, including triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL – “bad” cholesterol which transports fat molecules around the body.

There was no difference in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, often dubbed the “good” cholesterol, between pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

“We found post-menopausal women had higher cholesterol levels compared to premenopausal women,” said lead author Ananthan Ambikairajah.

“These levels can put some women at higher risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke.

“It could be really useful for post-menopausal women that have moderate risks – like obesity or low physical activity – to connect with their GP and get their LDL levels checked.”

Ambikairajah added that more research needs to be done to investigate why LDL levels increase after menopause.

“LDL has been deemed the bad cholesterol, while HDL, or high density lipoproteins, is considered the good cholesterol. But we do need both forms for our body to function,” Ambikairajah said.

“LDL profiles vary for all women, depending on their risk factors. If you have no risk of obesity or other coronary issues your LDL threshold might be higher than someone obese.

“This study shows postmenopausal women should check their LDL levels and see if they are at risk.

“Women can consult with their GP about what could be done to address these risks.”