It is common knowledge that all adults need to protect their hearts, especially when we get to a certain age. Our heart pumps life through us, and keeping it healthy should be a main priority in our daily lives. Since heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, doctors and researchers are scrambling to understand its cause and how to prevent it. A new study suggests that having slightly raised cholesterol levels in middle age can be a danger down the road, and needs to be nipped in the bud.
Cholesterol comes from bad fats in our diets, and sticks in our blood. This leads to a gradual build-up of fatty material in the blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood throughout your body including to your brain and heart. This can lead to heart attack or stroke when left untreated. Because many of the people who suffer from these severe illnesses are older, researchers wanted to know what could be done earlier in life to prevent dangerous cholesterol levels. What the study found was interesting to say the least.
Dr. Ann Marie Navar-Boggen, lead researcher on the study, is suggesting that elevated cholesterol levels for every decade between ages 35 and 55 raises the risk of heart disease by a whopping 40%. The team looked at nearly 1,500 adults who did not have heart disease who were all enrolled in a trial looking at heart risk. Around age 55, around two-fifths of the study volunteers had at least 10 years in their past with elevated cholesterol levels. After watching the participants for 15 years, the researchers found that those who had higher cholesterol earlier in life were four times more likely to develop heart disease than participants who did not have these levels.
After conducting their research, Navar-Boggen and her team are insisting that adults in middle age have their cholesterol levels checked regularly to stay safe. Called the “lipid years,” this is the time in life when we need to be proactive about our future health. What we do to our bodies in our 20s, 30s, and 40s lays the foundation for our vitality later. Not every person who has elevated cholesterol will need medication or other treatment; it may be recommended that engaging in a healthier diet or increased exercise will lower risks. While it may not seem fun or romantic to think about cholesterol and vitamins and yada yada yada…you will be setting yourself up for years of fun to come.
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