CHICAGO — Four out of every five middle-aged American men run the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease because of unhealthy levels of cholesterol in their blood, researchers reported Thursday.
The research, based on a landmark study of more than 350,000 men, found that even moderate levels of blood cholesterol boost the odds of death from heart disease and that the danger is present even in men who do not smoke or have high blood pressure.
"I think the numbers speak rather clearly for themselves," said Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, a cardiologist from Northwestern University. "The optimal (cholesterol) level is 180, and 80% of this population is over 180. They're all at risk. That's the lesson here."
Other researchers reported that lovastatin, a drug being studied, cuts high cholesterol levels by a third and could prove an effective treatment for people whose cholesterol levels do not respond to changes in diet.