Wake Forest study finds both prevention and treatment needed to control heart disease

November 10, 1999

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Both prevention and drug treatment strategies are needed to control cholesterol and reduce the risk of death from heart disease, a Wake Forest University investigator reported today (Nov. 10) at the American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta.

David C. Goff, Jr..,M.D., Ph.D, and his colleagues looked at total cholesterol records in people born as long ago as 1887, using four major national health surveys totaling 49,536 people - the first dating from 1962 and the last completed in 1994.

At lower levels of total cholesterol, only diet typically is needed to keep cholesterol under control or bring the number down. Only when total cholesterol gets very high - at least 240 - do doctors turn to drugs to reduce cholesterol.

The combined strategies seem to be working. Cholesterol reduction showed up across the surveys. The reduction was not restricted to people with high cholesterol levels. Rather the cholesterol levels seen among people with the lowest cholesterol levels had been dropping also.

"The decreases seen at the lower levels support the contention that a strong prevention effect occurred in the United States," said Goff, associate professor of public health sciences (epidemiology) and internal medicine (general internal medicine.) "The larger decrease in the upper range may reflect the combined effects of prevention and treatment."

In looking across the four surveys, Goff found that cholesterol levels were lower in people born more recently than in people born earlier in this century or at the end of the last century.

Cholesterol reduction programs generally began about two decades ago, along with control of two other risk factors for heart disease - high blood pressure and smoking. Though heart disease remains the leading killer of Americans, the heart disease death rate has been declining over the past several decades.

"These findings support the potential utility of planned population approaches to risk factor reduction and chronic disease prevention," Goff said.

In other words, in addition to efforts by physicians on their own patients, community and national campaigns could be used to encourage people to control their cholesterol - a broadening of the community-wide cholesterol screening campaigns of a decade ago.

Goff said, "Efforts aimed at preventing the development of high blood cholesterol through changes in health behaviors at the population level should go forward simultaneously with continued and intensified effort to improve the control of high blood cholesterol through medications."

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.