Older Americans have the Nation's highest rate of coronary heart disease (CHD) and can benefit greatly from lowering elevated cholesterol, according to a new report from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). The report notes that cholesterol lowering also has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes.
NCEP is coordinated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The report, which appears in the August 9/23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, makes clear the NCEP's stand on the controversial issue of cholesterol lowering in those age 65 and older.
"Some investigators have questioned the value of testing cholesterol and treating high levels in the elderly," said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant. "But an overview of the research shows that cholesterol lowering can improve both the quality and length of life for many older Americans."
"Because most older Americans have cholesterol buildup in their arteries, an elevated cholesterol causes more cases of CHD in the elderly than in any other age group," said Dr. Scott Grundy, Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and lead author of the NCEP report. "It is clear that cholesterol counts in the elderly."
Dr. James Cleeman, NCEP Coordinator and a coauthor of the report said, "The new report reviews the evidence from epidemiological studies and clinical trials, and concludes that controlling cholesterol produces significant benefits in the elderly. For those with CHD, it can prolong life and dramatically reduce their risk of having a heart attack. For healthy seniors, it will reduce their high risk of developing CHD."
NCEP recommends that older Americans keep their cholesterol in check by
following an eating pattern lower in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol,
being physically active, and main
Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute