Slightly Raised Cholesterol in Mid-Life Can Have a “Long-Term Impact on Heart Health” Says Charity
A study has shown having even slightly raised cholesterol in your mid-life years can increase the risk of heart disease.
The research, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found that for every decade a person has elevated cholesterol between the ages of 35 and 55, their future risk of heart disease may increase by 39%.
HEART UK chief executive Jules Payne said that the study shows even lightly raised cholesterol in otherwise healthy people in their mid-life years can impact on heart health in the “long-term”. Keeping cholesterol low is therefore important at all ages.
Payne said: “This study suggests that slightly raised cholesterol levels in otherwise healthy adults between the ages of 35 and 55 can have a long-term impact on heart health.
“We already know that high cholesterol is one of the risk factors of heart and circulatory disease,” Payne added. “Cholesterol increases with age and it is important to lower our lifetime exposure to raised cholesterol. So, keeping our cholesterol low is important at all ages.”
The adults were free of cardiovascular disease at the age of 55 years, and the researchers calculated the length of time each participant had experienced high cholesterol by that age.
Over the next 15 years, their risk of heart disease was 16.5% – nearly four times the rate of 4.4% seen among those without high cholesterol. Each decade of high cholesterol raised the risk of heart disease by 39%.
Dr Ann Marie Navar-Boggan, lead author of the study’s research paper is reported saying the study shows that what we do to our blood vessels up to our 40s “lays the foundation for disease in later life.” If we wait until our 50s to think about heart disease prevention, an “important opportunity is already lost.”
Payne said six out of every ten UK adults have raised cholesterol, so it is important to get tested.
“Having a cholesterol test is the only way you will know if you are one of them [the six],” she said. “If you are 50 and over, and have not had a NHS health check in the last five years, you are encouraged to speak to your doctor or practice nurse about arranging a cholesterol test.”
Payne said it is important to be prepared to make changes to your diet and speak to your doctor about medication if you are at risk of coronary heart disease.
“Making changes to the food you eat and being more active can help lower your cholesterol well,” she said. “In some cases, particularly if you are at a greater risk of coronary heart disease, you may also need a cholesterol lowering medication – like a statin.”
Doireann Maddock, British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse, said: “We already know that too much cholesterol in your blood is a risk factor for having a heart attack or stroke.
“It’s never too early to start thinking about your heart health. By eating a healthy diet and keeping physically active you can help improve your cholesterol level,” she said.
For more information about cholesterol from HEART UK and getting a cholesterol test, visit: heartuk.org.uk.