A study has discovered that reducing bad cholesterol at the age of 45 and younger helps prevent heart problems later in life.
The study, published on Tuesday in the medical journal the Lancet, revealed that in order to prevent heart problems later in life, people 45 years old and younger with higher levels of bad cholesterol should change their eating and exercise habits or even consult their doctor about medications such as statins.
The researchers examined the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease related to non-high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol includes LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which builds up in the walls of arteries, restricting blood and oxygen flow to the heart, and triglycerides, the fat carried in the blood from food.
The study, which involved analysis of the records of almost 400,000 people from 19 countries, found that the group with the most risk for future heart problems related to non-HDL cholesterol were people 45 years old or younger.
Study author Barbara Thorand of the German Research Center for Environmental Health said: “The increased risk in younger people could be due to the longer exposure to harmful lipids in the blood.”
Findings indicated that hypothetically, if people in this age group are able to reduce their non-HDL cholesterol levels in half, they’d reduce their risk of heart problems significantly, from about 29% to 6% for men and 16% to 4% for women, despite other cardiovascular risk factors.
Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, praised the study and described it as an “extremely well-done analysis” that is “very helpful to clinicians and patients.”
“In the American Heart Association guidelines we talk a lot about a risk reduction and we try to prevent problems by giving patients as much good information as possible. This article reinforces the idea that earlier intervention, to keep cholesterol levels in a desirable range, rather than delaying to much later in life, needs to be discussed clearly and early,” Blumenthal added.