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Does Your Psychological Wellbeing Affect Your HDL Cholesterol Levels?

A recently published study has examined the effects of psychological well-being on lipid profiles including HDL cholesterol levels.

For many years the link between psychological well-being and lipid profiles has been studied. Initially, it was found that there was a negative correlation between cholesterol and moods. This means that as cholesterol levels increased, mood decreased. Following studies identified links between cholesterol and mental disorders. In this recent study, researchers have examined whether psychological well-being can be used to predict blood lipid profiles.

This study, published in Lipids in Health and Disease, used a theory-based formulation of “eudemonic” well-being, which includes various aspects of well-being such as autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. This longitudinal study, called the midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) study, followed 1,054 individuals for ten years to evaluate the relationship between psychosocial factors and health. The researchers of this study tested if consistently high levels of well-being gave rise to better lipid profiles when compared to individuals with consistently low levels of well-being.

There is much evidence that shows the role of high LDL cholesterol levels on clinical outcomes due to cardiovascular disease, which remains as the main cause of disease and death worldwide. Despite medications such as statins that can reduce LDL cholesterol and its associated risks, patients can still exhibit a high rate of cardiovascular events. Additional studies have demonstrated the positive effects of high levels of HDL cholesterol on reducing coronary heart disease and stroke. Multiple cohort studies have also shown that there is a link between low HDL cholesterol levels, memory decline, and dementia, whereas high levels of HDL cholesterol have been linked to longevity.

Psychological Well-being Predicts Physical Well-being

The results of this study demonstrated that some individuals showed consistently high levels of well-being over time, while other individuals possessed consistently low or moderate levels of well-being. After adjusting for the effects of demographics, health behaviours, medications, and insulin resistance, the results showed that individuals with consistently high levels of environmental mastery and self-acceptance, two components of psychological well-being, had significantly higher levels of HDL cholesterol and significantly lower levels of triglycerides compared to those individuals with consistently low levels of well-being. However, no link was found between the levels of well-being and LDL cholesterol levels within the results of this study.

Over a period of ten years, this study has followed 1,054 individuals and has found that high levels of psychological well-being predicted high HDL cholesterol and low triglycerides. These results provide additional longitudinal evidence to the increasing body of research showing that positive psychological factors are associated with better health profiles. The researchers note the importance of this finding, as psychological well-being is modifiable, thereby leading to an important way to maintain long-term health. Further research is needed to further examine this hypothesis and to establish possible underlying mechanisms.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer

Reference: Radler.B et al. (2018). Persistently high psychological well-being predicts better HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels: findings from the midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) longitudinal study. Available: Last accessed 14th Jan 2018.

Jade Evans MPharm
Jade Evans MPharm
Jade obtained her Master of Pharmacy degree from Cardiff University, UK in 2015 and then went on to work as a Pharmacist within the NHS, across both the hospital and community sectors. In 2017, she began her work for the medical news bulletin and moved to Perth, Australia. She is now working at Perth Children’s Hospital working in the Anaesthetic and Pain Management Research Group.


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