Local News

Study: Lowering Bad Cholesterol Can Save Lives

Posted July 12, 2004

— The

American Heart Association

wants to step up the war on cardiovascular disease -- the country's number No. 1 killer.

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 40 percent of deaths in North Carolina every year. A new strategy is aimed at lowering the cholesterol that is at the heart of the problem.

People who have suffered a heart attack or stroke and are at high risk of it happening again if they do not do something to prevent it. So it is important to exercise, and watch their diet -- especially their

LDL cholesterol

levels.

"What we've learned is that when it comes to LDL, the lower the better," said Dr. Sydney Smith, a cardiologist at University of North Carolina Hospitals.

Smith co-authored new recommendations for the American Heart Association.

Old guidelines stated 100 was the target number for LDL cholesterol for high-risk patients. Now, based on the results of 50,000 patients over five years, an optional LDL level of 70 will save even more lives.

"No doubt about it. If you get your LDL below 100, you're going to have some benefits. Going below 70 is of even greater benefit," Smith said.

For those at high risk, know your total cholesterol and keep it under 200. For everyone other than high-risk patients, recommendations stay the same.

A healthy lifestyle now can keep you from joining the high-risk group.

"We want to emphasize that the behavioral aspects are absolutely critical -- exercise, the right weight and the right diet," Smith said. "Everyone should be considering those."

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