Tuesday December 10, 2019

Cholesterol Levels in US Dropping, Thanks to Changed Recommendations

But there is more to do

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Cholesterol, US, Recommendations
FILE - Tablets of Lipitor, a kind of statin used for lowering blood cholesterol, are seen in Glen Rock, N.J., Nov. 15, 2005. VOA

Some good health news: Americans’ cholesterol levels are dropping, and more people at especially high risk are getting treatment.

Researchers say Monday’s report suggests a controversial change in recommendations for cholesterol treatment may be starting to pay off.

“It is very heartening,” said Dr. Pankaj Arora of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who led the study. “But there is more to do.”

Heart disease is the world’s leading killer and high cholesterol is a key risk factor — but not the only one. Doctors long treated patients based mostly on their level of so-called “bad” cholesterol, whether they had other risks or not. In 2013, national guidelines urged them instead to focus more on people’s overall heart risk, by taking into account age, blood pressure, diabetes and other factors. Those at highest risk would get the most benefit from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Cholesterol, US, Recommendations
Researchers say Monday’s report suggests a controversial change in recommendations for cholesterol treatment may be starting to pay off. Pixabay

The Alabama team examined records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracked cholesterol information from more than 32,000 adults between 2005 and 2016.

Among people taking cholesterol medication, the average level of that “bad” cholesterol — what’s known as LDL cholesterol — dropped 21 points over the study period, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It was declining even before the 2013 guidelines but continued to inch down afterward.

Total cholesterol levels and another fat known as triglycerides likewise decreased.

“These are surprisingly impressive results” that together predict a 15% to 20% reduction in risk of heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Michael Miller, preventive cardiology chief at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who wasn’t involved with the study.

Also Read- Pneumonia Kills More than 2K Children Daily, despite Being Preventable, Curable

High-risk groups

Moreover, there was an uptick in statin use by people with diabetes over the study period, from less than half to over 60% getting one. Diabetics are particularly vulnerable to heart attacks and tend to have poorer outcomes.

“It’s very important for those with a diagnosis of diabetes to not get that first heart attack,” said Dr. Neil J. Stone, a cardiologist at Northwestern University. He led development of the 2013 guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, and he co-authored an update last year.

Arora cautioned that other high-risk groups haven’t seen an increase in treatment — and that still too many Americans don’t know if they have a cholesterol problem.

Cholesterol, US, Recommendations
“It is very heartening,” said Dr. Pankaj Arora of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who led the study. Pixabay

The advice for consumers? If you haven’t had a cholesterol check recently, get one, Miller said.

Also Read- It’s Time To Save Endangered Gorillas

Testing is easier than ever, as fasting no longer is required. Especially if you have additional risk factors, high cholesterol should spark a frank conversation about diet, exercise, and the pros and cons of statins. (VOA)

Next Story

US Government Begins Probe into Google Over its Labour Practices

"Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google's Code of Conduct, which ends: 'And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right -- speak up.' When they did, Google retaliated against them," the employee activist group wrote in the blog post

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Google Search Engine
Google Logo. Pixabay

The US government has launched a probe into Google over its labour practices following a complaint from four employees who have been fired by the tech giant.

The four workers who filed a lawsuit against the company last week, claimed they were fired from Google for engaging in legally protected labour organizing, reports CNN Business.

The National Labor Relations Board has begun a formal probe into the complaint.

The tech giant has been accused of “union busting” and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked four employees for allegedly violating the company’s data security policies.

In a statement, Google said it dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of its longstanding data security policies.

Google
US begins probe into Google’s labour practices. Pixabay

“No one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities,” said the company on Monday.

Google is in the midst of controversy over its strained relationship with employees.

In an earlier blog post on Medium, an employee activist group, “Google Walkout for Real Change”, said that the company is illegally retaliating against prospective union organisers.

Also Read: Cricket Icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni to Back Show on Army Officers

“Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: ‘And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right — speak up.’ When they did, Google retaliated against them,” the employee activist group wrote in the blog post.

The new CEO of Alphabet Sundar Pichai faces extreme challenges as Google stares at several high-profile external probes into its alleged anti-trust market and data practices — from the US to the European Union regulators — including internal tensions with staff over discrimination at work and HR transparency. (IANS)