Cholesterol Watch

Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007
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Women Less Likely to Control LDL Cholesterol
According to a new study by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, women are significantly less likely to have their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol controlled to recommended levels than men.

The results, when controlled for other factors such as age,income, and ethnicity, showed equal or better outcomes for women on most dimensions of care?the notable exception being cholesterol control. The purpose of the study was to investigate gender differences in cardiovascular disease prevention, treatment, and risk factors based on national health care quality data from commercial and Medicare health plans. The researchers found that women were up to 10% less likely than men to have their cholesterol levels under control.

The study also found disparities based on race; 55.4% of Caucasian men with recent cardiac events who were in commercial health plans met recommended lipid control levels, compared with 46.2% of Caucasian women, 44.8% of black men, and 34.2% of black women. The findings were reported in the May/June 2007 issue of Women?s Health Issues.

Supermarket Chain Offers Cholesterol-lowering Milk
Kroger Co, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has announced the advent of a new milk brand that is able to help lower cholesterol levels. The product is being launched as the first of cholesterol-cutting milk. It will be sold under Kroger?s Active Lifestyle brand, adding to the company?s growing offerings for patients who choose health-conscious and natural/organic foods.

The milk uses an ingredient with plant sterols, which are found naturally in some vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other foods. The FDA has stated that plant sterols may lower the risk of heart disease by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol 2 levels when used in recommended amounts as part of a healthy diet.

?There?s a major trend toward health and wellness in the country,? said Linda Severin, Kroger?s vice president for corporate brands. ?Managing cholesterol is just a key need for many of our customers.

This is a way we can help our customers be proactive with their heart health.? Two 8-oz servings of the milk per day are recommended to help lower LDL levels. The milk is currently available only at Kroger stores.

Exercise Can Help Boost HDL
Researchers in Japan have found that regular exercise, in addition to burning calories, helps to raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the ?good? cholesterol. The researchers reviewed data from 25 studies published from 1966 to 2005 to assess the effects of aerobic exercise on HDL cholesterol in >1400 adults aged 23 to 75 years.

The studies lasted an average for 27.4 weeks, and the participants exercised an average of 3.7 times a week, about 40.5 minutes each time, burning an average of 1019 calories a week. The analysis of all studies showed that those who exercised regularly showed a significant increase in the amounts of HDL cholesterol?an average of 2.53 mg/dL. The minimum amount of exercise needed to raise HDL levels was 120 minutes a week, or 900 calories burned. In a past similar study, every 1-mg/dL increase in HDL levels was associated with a 2% to 3% decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women.

The researchers noted that exercise was more effective in patients with initially high total cholesterol levels or low body mass index. The findings were reported in the May 28, 2007, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Drinking Fructose Hard on Arteries
A new study suggested that the type of sugar used to sweeten beverages may affect how healthy or unhealthy they are for the arteries. Drinks sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar) are more likely to encourage the development of fatty artery deposits in overweight adults, compared with beverages sweetened with glucose.

The researchers at the University of California at Davis compared the results of drinking fructose versus glucose for 10 weeks in 23 overweight and obese adults. The participants all ate a balanced diet; 13 participants consumed glucose-sweetened drinks, while 10 drank fructose-sweetened drinks.

After 9 weeks, the researchers found that 24-hour post-meal blood fat levels went up after 2 weeks of fructose drinking but went down in those who drank glucose. Those who drank fructose also experienced a rise in fasting blood concentrations of low-density lipoproteins. The researchers concluded that ?persons at risk for developing metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease should avoid overconsumption of fructose-containing beverages.? The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association.



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