Higher pneumonia risk with unfavorable blood lipids?

Research we're watching

Published: December, 2020

People with low HDL (good) cholesterol and high triglycerides may be more likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia, according to a study in the Aug. 15, 2020, American Journal of Medicine.

The study included more than 13,000 people who were part of a long-term study designed to look at lipids and other factors linked to heart disease. Using hospital discharge records, researchers found that nearly 15% of the participants had been hospitalized with pneumonia during the follow-up, which lasted a median of 21 years.

People with low HDL levels (less than 38 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL) were more likely to be hospitalized with pneumonia than those with higher levels, and the odds of hospitalization dropped as HDL levels rose. Likewise, pneumonia hospitalizations were most common among people with triglyceride values higher than 157 mg/dL; those with lower values were less likely to be hospitalized.

The findings support earlier research suggesting a link between the body's ability to fight infections and blood lipid levels, especially HDL. High HDL levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But this molecule also might play an important role in a healthy immune response.

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