Thursday, July 22, 2010

A note of caution - for the not-so-old

Young and healthy? Check cholesterol anyway
Using data from 2,587 young adults — men aged 20 to 35 years; women aged 20 to 45 years — from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, Dr. Elena Kuklina and colleagues tested to see whether the frequency of cholesterol screenings was higher for patients who had one or more risk factors for coronary heart disease, which include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity or family history of heart disease before age 50.

Rates of heart disease and related conditions as well as risk factors were high among the adults in the study — consisting of 59% of the sample. So were the rates of elevated "bad," or LDL, cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol were present in 7% of young adults with no risk factors, 12% with one risk factor, 26% with two or more risk factors and 65% of those with heart disease or related conditions.

"This is worrisome," said Kuklina, a fellow at the CDC's division of heart disease and stroke prevention. "Not only do a lot of young adults have [coronary heart disease] or its equivalents, but a large majority have high cholesterol too."
(Image from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

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