How Lifetime Cholesterol Levels Hurt or Help Your Heart

LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. New studies now suggest that, like smoking, there are cumulative effects throughout life. The longer a person with high LDL, the higher the risk of suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Coronary heart disease, also known as “arterial sclerosis,” is the leading cause of death in the United States. This is caused by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, which narrows the blood vessels and blocks the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. Often, people are asymptomatic and unaware that they have been ill for years until they develop chest pain or suffer a catastrophic event such as a heart attack.

Using data from four large prospective health studies, the researchers calculated the LDL levels of 18,288 people who underwent multiple LDL tests at different ages over time. They calculated cumulative exposure to LDL and followed their health status for an average of 16 years. NS The study is in JAMA Cardiology..

Researchers have found that the longer the high level of LDL, the higher the risk of coronary heart disease, regardless of the level of LDL in young adults or middle-aged people. Compared to the lowest quarterly of cumulative exposure, the highest has a 57% increase in risk.

They did not find an increased risk of stroke or heart failure associated with cumulative LDL exposure. Researchers suggest that many factors can contribute to heart failure, and their study suggests that there are too few cases of stroke to achieve statistical significance.

This study manages race and ethnicity, gender, date of birth, weight index, smoking, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol), blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and the use of lipid lowering and blood pressure. Did. medicine.

For people under the age of 40, current guidelines only recommend treatment with cholesterol-lowering statins with LDL levels above 190, but researchers found that the increased risk of coronary heart disease is much lower. I have discovered that it can start from a level. (LDL levels below 100 are generally considered normal.)

“Our numbers suggest that the risk starts at a low LDL level of 100,” said Yi Yi Zhang, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that people under the age of 40 with an LDL of 100 need to start treatment immediately. More evidence is needed to determine the optimal combination of age and LDL level. “

Dr. Tamara Howitch, a cardiologist and medical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study, said that medical guidelines for selecting people who need statin therapy are age-related complications of heart disease. The main risk factors for illness.

Still, she said: “Autopsy studies have long known that atherosclerosis begins to develop in the arteries of young people in their teens and twenties. This study is the age at which statin therapy is started, or at least. I think it might tempt the doctor to bring the needle back to the age at which he is thinking. “

According to Dr. Zhang, young people have low short-term risk but high long-term risk. “The main message is to try to maintain low LDL until middle age. It will reduce your risk of heart disease.”

How Lifetime Cholesterol Levels Hurt or Help Your Heart

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