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Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol may halve heart disease risk

Simultaneously controlling your high blood pressure and high cholesterol may cut your risk for heart disease by 50% or more, though fewer than one in three people achieve this goal, according to research published recently in Circulation.1

The findings are based on data of more than 17,000 American adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys during in 1988–94, 1999–2004 and 2005–10. In addition to reviewing patients’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels, researchers considered race, age, insurance status, whether patients smoked, had diabetes, had diagnosed heart disease and/or chronic kidney disease, and if they visited a doctor every year.

“The reality is, we know more than enough to prevent 75% of heart disease and strokes, but we’re not doing everything we could be doing or even doing it at a reasonable level,” said lead author Professor Brent M Egan (Medical University of South Carolina, USA).

Professor Brent M Egan (Medical University of South Carolina, USA)

Professor Brent M Egan (Medical University of South Carolina, USA)

“We’ve made some gradual improvements over the years, but there is still a lot of progress to be made,” he added.

Cholesterol readings need closer attention, Professor Egan said. “If patients’ cholesterol tests show a good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, which is the healthy, protective cholesterol, then the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) number might get overlooked. Unfortunately, not all HDL is equally protective and some people with a normal HDL are at high risk. In those patients, there might be a false sense of assurance that cholesterol really isn’t a problem. But LDL and non-HDL readings are the ones to really watch. Patients seeing their doctors for blood pressure treatment should ask about their LDL and non-HDL levels and make sure both are under control at the same time.”


1. Egan BM, Li J, Qanungo S, Wolfman TE. Blood pressure and cholesterol control in hypertensive hypercholesterolaemic patients national health and nutrition examination surveys 1988–2010. Circulation 2013;128.

Published on: July 30, 2013

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