Experts say lower your cholesterol even more

| 8/10/2004

Medical researchers – who have pushed people for years to lower their cholesterol – are now calling on people with a risk of heart disease to lower their “bad cholesterol” even more.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recently updated its recommendations, calling on people who are at high risk for heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease to lower their “bad cholesterol” level to 70. The previous recommendation was 100.

“The lower the better for high-risk people,” Dr. Scott Grundy of the American Heart Association said in a statement.

The new guidelines were produced by a panel that examined five major clinical trials involving cholesterol-lowering medications, the Heart Association said.

“There is strong suggestive evidence that lower LDL cholesterol is better, but it has to be balanced against the cost and side effects of achieving very low levels,” Grundy said.

That can require heavy doses of medication, many of which can have serious side effects. The Heart Association stressed that people should also consider changing their diet, losing weight and increasing physical activity.

“The idea that you can use cholesterol-lowering drugs without lifestyle changes is incorrect,” Grundy said. “Lifestyle changes have enormous benefits beyond lowering LDL cholesterol, such as raising levels of good cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, improving diabetes and reducing inflammation.”