The association between blood lipid concentration, the long-term incidence of heart diseases and the relevance of lipid-lowering therapy for cardiovascular disease outcomes has remained unclear. New research has shown that the link between high non-HDL cholesterol and future cardiovascular disease risk is strongest among youngsters.
The researchers from the University Heart & Vascular Center Hamburg in Germany who sought to evaluate the cardiovascular disease risk associated with the full spectrum of blood Non-HDL cholesterol concentration included data from 400,000 individuals who were followed for about 43 years. They then stimulated the effect of a 50% reduction in cholesterol levels over a lifetime and found that although the reduction in cholesterol levels was effective at reducing heart diseases for all ages, the largest risk reductions were found among younger people, suggesting that they would have lowered their cholesterol exposure for a longer period in their lives.
The findings of the study point to the need for early testing of blood cholesterol levels to prevent long-term cardiovascular risk.
“At present, most people don’t think about getting a cholesterol test until they are in their 50s or 60s. By this time, they could have been living with high cholesterol levels for 40-plus years and a lot of the damage has already been done,” Medscape Medical News quoted the study’s senior author Stefan Blankenberg, MD. “Our data suggest that we shouldn’t wait until middle age to think about this. The younger you are when you find out that you have high cholesterol, the more can be done to minimize the damage.”
Blankenberg also clarified that they are not recommending life-long statin therapy, but the study results suggest that having a cholesterol test as a young adult is better at determining an individual’s risk and to help make informed decisions pertaining to statin treatment.
By far, clinical trials related to statin use has generally been conducted among older individuals and those with a high risk of cardiovascular disease who would be followed up for a short period of about 5-7 years. This is the only study by far that has evaluated how lipid levels predicted heart disease risk over a lifetime.
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