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New Cholesterol Management Guidelines Could Improve Heart Health While Lowering Alzheimer's Risk

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Experts issue new guidelines for doctors and caregivers to prevent, diagnose, and treat high cholesterol among patients of all ages.

The American Heart Association, among 11 other health organizations, created a panel to write the new science-based health recommendations that will be used by medical professionals in creating personal plans for individual examination of risk factors for high cholesterol.

The guideline was published in the journal Circulation on Nov. 10, Saturday.

Lowering Cholesterol Lowers Risks Of Adverse Cardiac Event

A lifetime's exposure to high cholesterol has long been known to increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. However, one in three adults in the United States has dangerous levels of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol that causes fatty buildup that can narrow arteries and block blood from going into the heart.

To lower the number of people with high cholesterol, the new guideline suggests that doctors look beyond the typical risk factors for high cholesterol. Instead, they might consider also checking other health factors, such as family history, to examine a patient's risk of having high cholesterol.

The LDL cholesterol particle is really the central molecule involved in the biology of this disease," stated Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. "It's important to understand the life course of exposure and the context of other risk factors in which that is occurring."

In the new guideline, assessment begins at 2 years of age, especially if they have a family history of heart attack and high cholesterol. People who are over the age of 20 are also advised to have their risk factor assessed every four to six years.

For people over the age of 40, doctors should discuss preventive options such as taking medications to control cholesterol levels based on risk factors including family history and other health conditions.

The new guideline also emphasizes the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes eating right and exercising regularly to reduce the person's levels of bad cholesterol.

Lowering Cholesterol Lowers Risk Of Alzheimer's

Lowering levels of bad cholesterol will do more good than just preventing heart disease. A separate, new research has linked high cholesterol with an increased risk of Alzheimer's later in life.

In the study published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, an international team of researchers found a DNA point involved in both cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer's. While more research is needed to find ways that target the right genes and lower the risk in patients, the researchers also advised patients to control cholesterol and triglycerides.

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