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Cardiovascular: People in their mid 20s should check cholesterol

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Reducing cholesterol can prevent heart attacks Reducing cholesterol can prevent heart attacks

People should have their cholesterol level checked from the age of 25 to head off future health problems, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

The study analysed data from almost 400,000 people from 19 countries and found a strong link between bad-cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease from early adulthood over the next 40 years or more.

The researchers were able to estimate the probability of a heart attack or stroke for people aged 35 and over, according to their gender, bad-cholesterol level, age and risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, height and weight, and blood pressure.

‘This large study again emphasises the importance of cholesterol as a major risk factor for heart attacks and stroke,’ said British Heart Foundation medical director Prof Sir Nilesh Samani.

‘It also shows that for some people, taking measures at a much earlier stage to lower cholesterol, for example by taking statins, may have a substantial benefit in reducing their lifelong risk from these diseases.’

According to the study, a 50% reduction of cholesterol concentrations was associated with reduced risk of a cardiovascular disease event by the age of 75 years, and this risk reduction was greater the earlier cholesterol concentrations were reduced.

‘Non-HDL cholesterol concentrations in blood are strongly associated with long-term risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease,’ commented the study’s authors. ‘We provide a simple tool for individual long-term risk assessment and the potential benefit of early lipid-lowering intervention. These data could be useful for physician–patient communication about primary prevention strategies.’

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