Covid may increase the risk of high cholesterol for up to a year after infectio. Two recent studies suggest, prompting some doctors to take. Acloser look at the plain trend.”It’s something we need to pay more attention to,” said Dr. Ashish Sarraju.
A cardiologist in the Cleveland Clinic’s Division of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation. Adding that the latest research is “provocative.”
A study published earlier this month in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. MFound that people with prior Covid. Infection had a 24% increased risk of high cholesterol levels.
“These are people who have never had cholesterol problems before,” said study author Dr. Ziad Al-Ali. Aclinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “Now, all a sudden, they start having problems a few weeks after Covid-19.”
He looked at new diagnoses of high cholesterol among 51,919 people who had Covid. From March 2020 to January 2021, before vaccines became widely available. Participants were patients who sought care within the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the early sixties most were white men.
Compared to 2.6 million people who did not have Covid during the same period. Patients with Covid were more likely to have high levels of triglycerides. And LDL cholesterol, the so-called bad type of, up to one year later. They were also more likely to have low “good” HDL cholesterol.
A second study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases in late December found similar results. Albeit significantly, in much younger people.
Researchers in Switzerland compared the cholesterol levels of 177 members of the Swiss military. Who contracted Covid in 2020 with 251 others who were not infected. The average age of the participants was 21.
Patricia Schlegenhauf, professor of global and public health at the University of Zurich. Said the Covid group ended up with higher cholesterol levels. They also had a higher body mass index post-Covid.
“Significantly higher cholesterol, higher LDL and higher BMI. In these young people state a metabolic disorder,” he said.
Sarraju of the Cleveland Clinic made a similar observation.
“We’ve definitely seen patients who have had Covid have a higher BMI or metabolic problems,” he said.
It is not clear why respiratory viruses like Covid can lead to high cholesterol. Ongoing inflammation may play a role. But the participants in this study were also sick during the first wave of Covid cases, when people mostly stayed at home.
Dr. Glenn Hirsch, chief of cardiology at National Jewish Health in Denver. Said there were “behavioral changes, including diet and lack of exercise” that could be a factor in higher cholesterol levels. He said his team found an increased risk of many conditions after Covid. Including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.
“It seems like it’s something that should be tracked closely,” Sarraju said.
As of Wednesday, there have been more than 101 million cases of Covid in the US since the start of the pandemic.