Introduction to Cardiovascular Health — Cholesterol
High serum cholesterol, primarily low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, is associated with high coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. The primary cause of CHD is when cholesterol containing particles like LDL adhere to the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle and cause blockages. Prescribed statins, drugs that block the body’s production of cholesterol, have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by an average 20%. Due to potential side effects, statin prescription for persons without pre-existing cardiovascular disease (CD) or elevated risk for developing it is controversial.
Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables together with exercise regimens can usually decrease LDL cholesterol without statin intervention. Dietary intervention is generally tried before prescription of statins.