FRIDAY, Oct. 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- High cholesterol levels may increase your risk of tendon problems and pain, a new study suggests.
Tendons are the tough fibers connecting the body's muscles and bones. The researchers suspect cholesterol buildup in immune cells can lead to chronic low-level inflammation, prompting tendon abnormalities and pain.
They analyzed 17 studies published between 1973 and 2014 that included more than 2,600 people. Compared to those with normal tendon structure, people with abnormal tendon structure had higher total cholesterol. They also had higher levels of "bad" low-density cholesterol, lower levels of "good" high-density cholesterol, and higher levels of blood fats called triglycerides, the researchers found.
People with high cholesterol levels were also much more likely to have tendon injuries, higher levels of musculoskeletal-related pain in their arms, and thicker tendons.
The study was published online Oct. 16 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
"Together, these findings provide significant support for a metabolic hypothesis of tendon injury and implicate [levels of body fats] as a potential link," Jaime Gaida, an associate professor of physiotherapy at the University of Canberra, Australia, and colleagues said in a journal news release.
However, the study results don't prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between elevated cholesterol levels and tendon abnormalities.
The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.