Consider it a wake-up call for generations X and Y: You may think you are healthy, but having cholesterol levels that are even slightly high during your 30s may double your risk for heart disease later in life, new research shows.
People can lower their risk of developing heart disease by refraining from smoking and maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. But regardless of whether you do those things, if your cholesterol is above the healthy range starting in your mid-30s, you might be setting yourself up for a heart attack or chest pains by the time you're in your 60s, the results of the new study suggest.
The warning, which has been in effect since 2012, warns that statins can affect abilities like attention span, problem solving, memory, language, and visuospatial abilities, and was based on the results of surveillance, case reports, studies and trials.
However, none of those symptoms were apparent in a systematic review of 25 clinical trials that followed nearly 47,000 people. "We found no significant effects of statin treatment on cognition," said Brian R. Ott, MD, director of The Alzheimer's Disease & Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital, and author of the review. "Given these results, it is questionable whether the FDA class warning about potential cognitive adverse effects of statins is still warranted."
They analyzed data from studies conducted since 1994 that included more than 150,000 middle-aged and elderly men and women who took statins and were followed for about five years. The results showed that long-term statin use slightly increased the risk of some side effects but did not increase the risk for others.
For example, there was little evidence of muscle aches and pains and only a slight increase in the risk of muscle inflammation. A serious condition featuring the rapid breakdown of muscle tissue was mainly associated with high doses of statins that are no longer recommended.
Twenty-year follow-up of the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS) has shown that treatment with a statin for 5 years provides a "persistent reduction in cardiovascular disease outcomes" over the course of 2 decades
"In other words, there is a 5-year gain in event-free years if you start LDL lowering at the age we started, which is around 50 years old."
Still, the legacy effect of statins appears to be an "ongoing, carryover effect related to a slowing of the progression of the disease and/or the stabilization of existing coronary artery plaque." Age might be the reason for such a long-term benefit, said White, noting that WOSCOPS patients were treated relatively young.
A recent data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the use of cholesterol-lowering medications — statins in particular — was on the rise. Such medications are recommended by national cholesterol treatment guidelines. Reducing cholesterol can prevent plaque buildup in the blood vessels and, as a result, heart disease. These medications fit into two classes: statins and non-statins. "Statins are the top choice for cholesterol lowering medication because not only do they lower cholesterol numbers, they also reduce heart attack and stroke risk by 30 percent or more," said Sarah Samaan, MD, FACC, a board-certified cardiologist with the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, in an interview with dailyRx News.
It says that even slightly raised cholesterol levels should trigger the treatment.
Every decade of high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease by nearly 40 per cent, according to the Duke Clinical Research Institute in North Carolina.
The US scientists say it is too late to start looking after your heart health in your 50s or 60s and are calling for studies to be carried out on the long-term effectiveness and safety of statins in younger adults.
Increasing evidence suggests long term use is safe and ever more experts say the benefits far outweigh any risks from side effects.
Very important link found between breast cancer and high cholesterol;
McDonnell said the findings suggest there may be a simple way to reduce the risk of breast cancer by keeping cholesterol in check, either with statins or a healthy diet. Additionally, for women who have breast cancer and high cholesterol, taking statins may delay or prevent resistance to endocrine therapies such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors.