With a family history of heart disease, Howard Gaskin eats well, stays active and pays close attention to his cholesterol levels. Not only keeping his LDL, or bad cholesterol low, but keeping his HDL, or good cholesterol, high. It’s certainly a number, a metric a measure that I’ve been focused on for years. It’s long been believed that elevated HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is a marker for good heart health, so the higher the better. But new research led by Sunnybrook’s Dr. Dennis Ko finds, not so. In fact, it’s probably not the HDL. It’s probably the things that you do, like your exercise and your diet, that’s probably more important. People who incorporated these things into their lives had better outcomes, says Dr. Ko, whose study examined the link between HDL and overall health in 630,000 Ontarians. We’re always thought that if we can increase HDL, people may never have a heart attack ever again. But that seems not to be the case. Instead, he says moderate HDL levels are better, and should only be considered an indicator of good overall health. But he emphasized, this doesn’t change the importance of keeping LDL, or low-density lipoprotein levels, low. Howard had been taking medication to keep his LDL low for years, and will continue to do so. But he says these findings around HDL are a surprise. I think I will obviously focus a lot less on HDL as a measure of the success of what I’m doing. But I exercise because I enjoy it, I run because I really have a good time doing that. So I’ll still continue to focus on those strategies but with different metrics in mind. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys.