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A recent study led by Peter Kokkinos from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which analyzed the records of more than 10 million veterans, found that combining cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins with physical fitness may be the most effective way to reduce the chance of dying from dyslipidaemia, report Medical News Today. Dyslipidaemia is a condition in which patients experience high levels of cholesterol and blood fats.
Between 1986 and 2011, the subjects of the study took an exercise tolerance test and their fitness capabilities were classified as being least, moderate, fit or high. The participants in each of the four categories were divided into two groups - one was given statins and one was not.
The results of the study, which were published in the journal The Lancet, found that the risk of death for those taking statins was 18.5 percent, which increased to 27.7 percent for those who did not take the cholesterol medication. The researchers also found that the participants who were the most physically fit and took statins were the least likely to die, but overall, being in shape helped reduce the fatality risk by 60 to 70 percent.
"Individuals with dyslipidaemia should improve their fitness to at least a moderate level. Treatment with statins is important, but better fitness improves survival significantly and is a valuable additional treatment or an alternative when statins cannot be taken," said Kokkinos, as quoted by the news source.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 71 million U.S. adults have high levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, which can be measured with cholesterol testing, but less than half of these adults seek treatment for it. In between 1991 and 2010, the rate of high cholesterol dropped from 18.3 percent to 13.4 percent.
Risk factors for high cholesterol include being overweight, alcohol abuse, kidney disease, pregnancy, diabetes and an underactive thyroid gland, reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
To lower cholesterol levels and increase overall cardiovascular wellness, the NIH recommends eating a diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grain, and is low in fats. Losing weight and exercising regularly can also be beneficial.
A healthcare professional may also prescribe cholesterol medications to some patients depending on their age and whether or not they have heart disease, blood flow problems or diabetes.
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