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In a recent study documented in the journal Circulation, the longer an individual is affected by high cholesterol, the greater the likelihood of heart disease later in life. This is particularly important for younger individuals who may not yet be concerned about elevated cholesterol. What the study indicates, is that it is not necessarily the level of cholesterol, but the duration it has existed that is most significant.
The study, performed at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, measured the cholesterol levels of individuals over a 20 year period as correlated to incidence of heart disease. It was found that individuals with little to no elevation of cholesterol initially had only a 4.4% chance of developing heart disease. However, for each ten years that an individual had elevated cholesterol, the risk of heart disease increased by 40%.
Persons in their 30's and 40's often have little concern for their cholesterol, and are not diligently checked and treated for elevated levels. However, this study indicates there may be a benefit in testing and treating these individuals earlier. Lifestyle changes and medical treatment can help to reduce cholesterol levels and thus reduce the chance of developing heart disease later in life. Home cholesterol tests are readily available to the general public to minimize life interruption but stay mindful of elevations which should be discussed with a physician. Herbal cholesterol medications are also available for those averse to statin therapy.