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October 07, 2002|Benedict Carey

American Heart Assn.'s Heart Profiler

www.americanheart.org/heartprofilers.com

Background: The AHA, the heart disease research and education nonprofit organization, has teamed with drug maker Kos Pharmaceuticals Inc. to help consumers make sense of test results and learn about the latest research.

What works: The profiler lets you search by the condition central to your diagnosis, whether high cholesterol, high blood pressure or family history. Have test results handy: You'll need to enter them to get complete advice. The best page may be the risk-factor analysis, which gives numbers connecting age, ethnicity and test-result readings to overall heart disease risk. Given that the profiler is sponsored by a maker of cholesterol-lowering drugs, it's not surprising that drug therapy is strongly suggested for high LDL scores. In some cases, that recommendation may be premature; often patients can improve cholesterol readings with diet and exercise. It would be nice if the site gave a better idea of how much we should change our lifestyle before considering drugs. But this is a good guide to how doctors think about treatment.

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