LSU AgCenter Nutritionist Says Cholesterol Treatment Likely To Intensify

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/19/2005 10:28:31 PM

News You Can Use For September 2004 

Half the male and one-third of the female populations will develop heart disease sometime in their lives, according to LSU Agricultural Center nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"Whether you have heart disease or want to prevent it, you can reduce your risk for having a heart attack by lowering your blood cholesterol level," Reames says, in observance of September as National Cholesterol Education Month.

The LSU AgCenter nutritionist says a 2004 update to the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) report includes new, more intensive treatment options for physicians to consider in treating people at high and moderately high risk for a heart attack.

The guidelines include options of setting lower treatment goals for LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or "bad" cholesterol and initiating cholesterol-lowering drug therapy at lower LDL levels. The recommendations are based on a review of five major clinical trials, which showed a direct relationship between lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduced risk for major coronary events.

In addition, the report emphasizes the importance of therapeutic lifestyle changes, including nutrition, physical activity and weight control for cholesterol management.

One of the major recommendations of the ATP III update guidelines for high- and very high-risk patients includes the following: LDL less than100 mg/dL (milligrams/deciliter) is an overall goal for high-risk patients; for very high-risk patients, a therapeutic option is to treat to less than 70 mg/dL.

The threshold for cholesterol-lowering drug treatment is 100 mg/dL or above. Patients with LDL 100-129 mg/dL are advised to receive cholesterol-lowering drug therapy.

High-risk patients are those who have coronary heart disease or disease of the blood vessels to the brain or extremities, or have diabetes or have multiple (two or more) risk factors, such as smoking or hypertension, which give them a higher than 20 percent chance of having a heart attack within 10 years.

Very high-risk patients are those who have cardiovascular disease together with either multiple risk factors (especially diabetes), or severe and poorly controlled risk factors (such as continued smoking) or metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors associated with obesity including high triglycerides, low HDL (high-density lipoprotein), hypertension, high blood sugar and large waist circumference. Patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndromes such as heart attack also are at very high risk.

A copy of the guidelines can be found at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/index.htm.

To reduce your risk of heart disease, Reames recommends taking these steps from the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:

• Get a fasting lipoprotein profile to find out what your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride numbers are.

• Discuss your risk for heart disease with your physician or other health–care provider and take steps to reduce the risk factors that put you at risk.

• Learn how to read a food label. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.

• Calculate your body mass index (BMI) with the BMI calculator and see how your weight measures up.

• Participate in physical activity of moderate intensity—like brisk walking—for at least 30 minutes on most, and preferably all, days of the week. Break the 30 minutes into three, 10-minute segments during the day, if you can’t do it at one time.

• Don't smoke. If you do smoke, contact your health–care provider to discuss ways in which he or she can help you quit.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/

On the Internet: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines
/cholesterol/index.htm

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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