Lower Cholesterol Earlier

Cholesterol reduction at younger age lowers risk of coronary heart disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Interested in lowering your risk of coronary heart disease? Taking steps to lower your bad LDL cholesterol earlier in life is more effective than treating high cholesterol with statin drugs later in life.

Individuals who take proactive steps such as following a healthy diet and exercise to lower LDL cholesterol sooner can reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease three-fold.

"Exercise regularly to keep cholesterol lower."

Dr. Brian A. Ference, director of the cardiovascular genomic research center at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the study’s principal investigator, said that the benefit of lowering LDL cholesterol depends both on timing and the magnitude. He noted this means that eating healthy and engaging in physical activity early in life could be as effective as cholesterol-lowering medications later in life.

High cholesterol can lead to coronary heart disease when the arteries leading to the heart become clogged with plaque, and it heightens the risk of heart attack. Often when patients are diagnosed as having high cholesterol, it already has been elevated for years, or even decades.

Researchers utilized a new study design called Mendelian randomized controlled trial (mRCT) to determine the effect of nine single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or single-letter changes in DNA sequence, each of which is linked with lower levels of LDL cholesterol. The series of randomized controlled trials involved more than a million participants.

The SNPs are randomly inherited. Researchers said that inheriting just one is similar to receiving an LDL lowering cholesterol treatment at birth. Investigators determined having all nine SNPs was associated with a 50 percent to 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing coronary heart disease for each 1 mmol/L  lower lifetime exposure to LDL cholesterol. When cholesterol was lowered by 2 mmol/L, the risk of coronary heart disease was reduced by almost 80 percent.

“The results of our study demonstrate that the clinical benefit of lowering LDL can be substantially improved by initiating therapies to lower LDL cholesterol beginning early in life,” Dr. Ference said.

The research was presented Monday at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific sessions.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 26, 2012
Last Updated:
March 27, 2012