New Delhi: People aged below 45 years can prevent future heart diseases by lowering their cholesterol levels, says a new study.
Research published in medical journal The Lancet on 3 December found that younger people with high cholesterol levels can reduce their risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases later in their life if they undergo treatment on time.
The study has found that if people under 45 years of age reduce their bad cholesterol levels or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to half, they can significantly reduce the risk of heart problems they could develop by the age of 75.
Labelled as the “most comprehensive analysis” of the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease related to non-HDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol, the research says men can reduce this risk from about 29 per cent to 6 per cent and women from 16 per cent to 4 per cent.
The study suggests use of statins — a class of drugs that lowers the levels of cholesterol to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Other ways to reduce risk include achieving healthy body weight, limiting the intake of alcohol, quitting smoking, and keeping blood pressure under check.
Funded by the European Union Framework Programme, UK Medical Research Council, and German Centre for Cardiovascular Research, the study was published after 40 researchers analysed the records of almost 400,000 people from varied background for a median of 13.5 years.
Cholesterol — ‘good’ and ‘bad’
High density lipoprotein of HDL is commonly described as “good cholesterol”, which helps in clearing fat from the bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is termed as “bad cholesterol”, which obstructs the normal flow of blood to the heart.
Harvard Medical School describes non-HDL cholesterol as “total cholesterol value minus HDL cholesterol”. “When you get your blood drawn for a cholesterol test (also known as a lipid profile or lipid panel), the report usually includes four numbers: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol; triglycerides; and total cholesterol.”
Early intervention may stop other diseases
The study also found that “to intervene early and intensively during the lifespan might even lead to regression of early manifestation of atherosclerosis”.
Atherosclerosis is a disease of arteries where the deposition of fatty material, calcium and cholesterol builds up on the inner walls of arteries. It leads to narrowing and hardening of arteries leading to heart attack and stroke.
The study included patients from 19 countries across Europe, Australia and North America aged 30 to 85 years.