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Control Bad Cholesterol Earlier, Study Suggests

Oct 30th, 2012

Control Bad CholesterolIt’s never too early to take care of your heart. According to a recent study, individuals may benefit more from paying attention to their cholesterol levels earlier in life instead of putting it off until later, when there is less chance for improvement.

However, there is still no solid evidence that early intervention would make any difference, and the thought of high cholesterol screening for people under 35 is not widely acceptable. But some doctors think that there might be enough evidence to consider earlier interventions.

The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

According to researchers, people who possess the genes associated with a lifetime of lower cholesterol levels had lower risk of heart disease. In fact, the risk was up to three times lower compared to those who took medications to control bad cholesterol later in life, they added.

“The study doesn’t suggest giving statins earlier would be beneficial, but it suggests lowering cholesterol earlier would be,” said Dr. Brian Ference, of Cardiovascular Genomic Research Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. “It is really important to emphasize a healthy diet and exercise to keep LDL cholesterol low early in life,”

Heart disease is the number one cause of death around the world. In the United States, it is responsible for one-thirds of all deaths. Heart attacks cause 400,000 American deaths, annually.

Today, only those with at least ten years risk for cardiovascular problems are prescribed statins. Risk factors include gender, age, blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol levels.

Statins reduce cholesterol levels, which is associated with plaque buildup in the arterial walls which can impede blood flow and cause heart attacks.

The research team wanted to determine the effects of controlling cholesterol levels throughout life, preventing plaque formation from taking place.

For the study, researchers tested their idea by studying people with natural genetic mutations as substitute for lower LDL cholesterol.

These genetic variations, known as SNPs, can be found in a single block of DNA and can be inherited randomly. Researchers have found that these mutations were associated with lower risk of heart disease. Doing a per unit of cholesterol analysis, they have found that the risk reduction was about 55 percent across the board.

The result suggests that the decrease in heart disease risk is due to lower cholesterol levels and not because of some other factors associated with the mutations, researchers said.

When people start statin treatment in their 60s reduce their risk by about 20 percent, researchers said.

“Long-term exposure to lower LDL is three times more effective than starting later in life,” Dr. Ference said. “The key is to keep your LDL cholesterol low starting as early as possible.”

Source: VISTA Health Solutions

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