CHOLESTEROL WATCH

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Guide Offers Tips for the Cholesterol-Conscious

The National Heart, Lung, and BloodInstitute (NHLBI) of the National Institutesof Health has issued a new publicationdesigned to help those watching theircholesterol levels with the task of makinglifestyle changes. The booklet, entitledYour Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterolwith TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes),details a 3-part program of diet, physicalactivity, and weight management designedto help lower cholesterol levels.

The 80-page booklet is based on theNational Cholesterol Education Program's(NCEP) guidelines on cholesterolmanagement, which emphasize the importanceof TLC, including heart-healthyeating, exercise, and weight control.According to James Cleeman,MD, coordinatorof the NCEP, TLC is the cornerstoneof cholesterol treatment, even forpatients who are already taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

"Lifestyle is crucial for lowering cholesterol,but it's not enough to tell people it'simportant—you have to help them do it.This guide offers a set of tools to helppeople get started and to embrace aheart-healthier way of living," Dr. Cleemansaid.

For an on-line version of the booklet,visit the NHLBI Web site atwww.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.htm.

Aggressive Statin Therapy Helps in Heart Crises

A new analysis of past studies has shown that early, intensivetreatment with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs gives significantlong-term benefits for people who suffer heart attacks orother acute coronary syndromes (ACSs). Researchers at WalterReed Army Medical Center in Washington,DC, found that administeringstatin treatment to a patient with an ACS reduced theincidence of future ACSs over the next 2 years by more than18%. The findings were published in the September 25, 2006,issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The investigators analyzed the results of 13 previous studiesin which intensive statin therapy either was or was not begunfor ~18,000 patients within 14 days of hospitalization for an ACS.They found that those receiving aggressive statin treatmentshowed major benefits, compared with patients who receivedeither low-dose or no statin treatment. The benefits took over 4months to accrue and were sustained for 2 years, during whichtime there was an almost 20% reduction in the risk of experiencinganother ACS.

Virgin Olive Oil Is Best for the Heart

Most people know that olive oilis better for the heart than mostother oils and fats. Not all oliveoils are created equal, however. Anew study shows that virgin oliveoil may offer better protectionagainst heart disease than refinedolive oils because it containsmore antioxidants. Virginolive oil is made from the firstpressing of olives and containshigher levels of a class of antioxidantscalled polyphenols thanmore refined olive oils that comefrom later pressings. Researchersstate that polyphenols may provideadditional heart-healthy benefits.The study was published inthe September 5, 2006, issue ofthe Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers compared theeffects of consuming olive oilswith different levels of polyphenolson heart disease risk factorsin 200 healthy European men.They were divided into 3 groups:1 group ate about 1 tablespoon ofvirgin olive oil a day, anothergroup consumed the sameamount of refined olive oil, andthe third ate a mixture of the 2.They followed this regimen everyday for 3 weeks; after a 2-weekbreak, the groups were switched.The researchers found that thevirgin olive oil increased the levelsof high-density lipoproteins morethan the refined oil or the mixture.It also increased the levels of substancesin the body that preventthe oxidation of low-densitylipoproteins, which is linked tothe formation of clots in bloodvessels.

New Classifications May Tag Teens at Risk for Future CVD

New criteria that take into account age and gender canaccurately identify teens with abnormal blood cholesterollevels that put them at risk for cardiovascular disease(CVD) when they become adults, according toresearchers at the School of Kinesiology and HealthStudies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario,Canada. The results of the research were published inthe September 2006 edition of Circulation: Journal of theAmerican Heart Association.

Several studies have determined that the buildup of fattyplaque in the arteries that can lead to CVD begins in childhood.This study is the first attempt to develop an age-andgender-based cholesterol evaluation system from teens,according to study coauthor Ian Janssen, PhD.

US guidelines recommend that teens be screened forabnormal cholesterol levels if their parents have cholesterolproblems or if their family has a history of premature CVD(before age 55). The original thresholds for children(between ages 2 and 19) were established by the USNational Cholesterol Education Program in 1992. Dr. Janssenstated that these thresholds are limited in their ability toidentify teens who will have high-risk lipid levels as adults.