“Bad” Cholesterol Levels Drop

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The holiday season may be known for indulgence, but there’s some good news on the cholesterol front.

Between 1999 and 2006, the prevalence of U.S. adults with high levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) decreased by about one-third, according to a study published in the Nov. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Overall, high LDL levels decreased from 31.5% in 1999–2000 to 21.2% in 2005–2006, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the numbers remain less heartening for those with heart disease, stroke and diabetes: a drop from 69.4% to 58.9% over the same period.

And there’s another caveat: A high percentage of adults are not being screened or treated for high cholesterol levels. Screening deficiencies may occur because there’s a lack of consensus on the age at which testing should begin.

“The current guidelines are overly complicated, and a simplified risk-based approach is supported by the current data,” note J. Michael Gaziano, MD, MPH, and Thomas A. Gaziano, MD, MSc, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in an accompanying JAMA editorial.

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