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Study supports getting earlier cholesterol checks


Narrator:            This is Science Today. The American Heart Association recommends checking cholesterol levels at age 20, but other guidelines put off the age of testing to 35 for men and 45 for women. Now a University of California, San Francisco study adds some support to the American Heart Association's position.

Pletcher:            We found that your average cholesterol levels during young adulthood — age 20 to 35 — were predictive of your risk of having coronary artery calcification later in life.

Narrator:            Mark Pletcher, an associate professor at the UCSF department of epidemiology and biostatistics, measured both good and bad cholesterol levels — respectively known as HDL and LDL cholesterol. 

Pletcher:            So, high levels of LDL during young adulthood was our strongest predictor, but we also found that low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, during young adulthood, were also predictive of heart disease later in life. It's our theory and that exposure to risk factors including cholesterol cause damage to the coronary arteries that accumulates over time.

Narrator:            For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.