Iowans who need to watch their cholesterol levels now need to watch those levels even more carefully. The FDA has lowered the numbers for which people are considered at risk and Des Moines cardiologist Steve Smalley says it’s important for people to take note.For the highest-risk patients who have heart disease, diabetes, high-blood pressure and other problems, the number used to be 100 for the L-D-L, or “bad,” cholesterol. Now, the number is 70, based on new medical trials. Smalley, a heart doctor at the Iowa Heart Center in Des Moines, says it’s not a change that’s only important to those high-risk patients. The lesser-risk people who had been seeing L-D-L levels at 100 to 130 are now considered good candidates for trouble and Smalley says they should take an active role in trying to prevent heart disease from setting in. There are obvious ways to get healthier, he says, like exercising and maintaining a sensible diet.Saturated fats are likely the biggest offenders that bring the “bad” cholesterol. He says meat, cheese and eggs also play some role, but likely less of a role than used to be commonly thought. It’s a common problem — he says about one-in-five Iowans are already taking medication to lower their cholesterol levels.
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