Cholesterol Levels Down Among U.S. Adults
Know Your LDL Level
These positive cholesterol trends have already started to make a dent in rates of heart disease, says Steven Nissen, MD. He is the chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
“We know that the single best predictor of heart disease is cholesterol levels, and they have been going down,” Nissen says.
“Levels of LDL cholesterol have declined substantially, and along with that decline, we are seeing a reduction in age-related heart disease,” he says. Rates of heart disease have declined steadily since the 1960s, according to the CDC.
“This is a good news story, but there are storm clouds on the horizon,” Nissen says. Soaring rates of obesity and diabetes threaten to overshadow this progress.
“The most likely and plausible explanation is that the decline in cholesterol is due to the more extensive use of medication in the at-risk population,” he says. “We are not moving more or getting lighter, and this didn’t happen by accident."
The new study serves to back up some of these points. There was not a decrease in how much cholesterol-raising saturated fat U.S. adults ate as a percentage of their daily calories, and there was little progress made in boosting physical activity among adults.
The health message is clear and applies to all adults. “Know your LDL,” he says. “If it is above the optimal level, ask your doctor if you have a high enough risk to warrant treatment.”