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The NIH Calls for Cholesterol Treatment

Have you had your cholesterol checked lately?  According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly three times as many Americans should be taking cholesterol-lowering drugs as they are now to reduce their risk of heart disease.  In addition,  they and millions more ought to be eating fewer cheeseburgers, fries and other fatty foods.  Most Americans should also be exercising more and losing weight as a general health and heart protection strategy. 

According to new guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program, heart disease risk is much higher than has been recognized.  Already, heart disease kills 500,000 Americans annually, making it the number one killer of men and women.  The new guidelines, [published in the Journal of the American Medical Association] call for early cholesterol testing, recommend a diet with low levels of saturated fats and increased fiber, and urge people to strive for at least 30
minutes of exercise daily.

Before menopause, estrogen protects most women from developing cardiovascular disease. Estrogen raises good (HDL) cholesterol and lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol. After menopause, though, a woman's body no longer produces as much estrogen. As a result, the risk of cardiovascular disease in women rises steadily after middle age so that by age 65, women have nearly the same rate of heart disease as men. One way to reduce this risk is by taking hormone replacement therapy.

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Created: 7/4/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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