High LDL Cholesterol Raises Heart Disease Risk Even in 'Healthy' People

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Even without any additional risk factors, young adults are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease if their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are high, according to an observational study from the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA reports that about 28.5 million people in the United States have total cholesterol levels over 240 mg/dL. One type of cholesterol — LDL (“bad”) cholesterol — builds up in the arteries, increasing heart attack and stroke risk. The goal of this research was to examine the association between LDL and heart disease risk to determine whether people considered to have a low 10-year risk for heart problems should take steps to lower high LDL levels through lifestyle changes and/or medication sooner.

The research involved data on 36,375 adults without diabetes or heart disease who participated in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study and were monitored for 27 years. Researchers found that, compared to those with LDL levels below 100 mg/dL, people with levels between 100 and 159 mg/dL had a 30 to 40 percent higher heart disease risk, and for those whose levels were over 160 mg/dL, the risk was 70 to 90 percent higher. During the study period, 1,684 study participants died from heart disease and stroke.

Sourced from: American Heart Association