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Overall Cholesterol Levels on the Decline

While obesity and diabetes remain on the rise, there has been a positive change in American cholesterol levels. A new study reports that overall cholesterol levels are on the decline and “good” cholesterol levels are steadily rising. The study followed American’s cholesterol levels over a period of nearly 20 years. In that time, overall cholesterol levels declined 5%. In addition, the study identified lowering levels of “bad” cholesterol or LDL by 10% and increasing levels of “good” cholesterol or HDL by 3.4%. While much of the decrease is attributed to cholesterol managing drugs called statins, the reduction of trans-fats, healthier diets, and decreases in smoking have also played a role in the cholesterol trend. Within the studies time period, researchers surveyed almost 3,500 patients in 3 separate surveys. In the survey period: - Total cholesterol saw a decrease from 206 mg/ dL to 196 mg/dL - “Bad” cholesterol dropped from 129 mg/dL to 116 mg/dL - “Good” cholesterol rose from 50.7 mg/dL to 52.5 mg/dL The American Heart Association proposes that total cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or under decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke. In addition, the AHA also recommends maintaining “bad” cholesterol levels under 100 mg/dL and “good” cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL to prevent the development of heart disease. More research is needed to find what is causing the overall decrease in cholesterol numbers, as the changes have not come from statin medication use alone. A particular focus will be why “bad” cholesterol decreased in the segment of obese participants, but there was no rise in “good” cholesterol. Overall cholesterol levels are on the decline, to keep it that way Americans will have to continue to make healthy choices.   Sources: Time Healthland: USA Today: Bloomberg Businessweek:
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