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May 18, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
A new genetic study suggests that high-density lipoprotein, the so-called good cholesterol commonly known as HDL, may not actually be as good for us as physicians previously thought. A study of more than 100,000 people found that those with genes that promote production of higher-than-normal levels of HDL do not have a lower risk of having a heart attack, a finding that has surprised researchers immensely. The results could have major implications for pharmaceutical manufacturers, who have been attempting to develop drugs that will raise HDL in the hopes of preventing heart attacks in people at higher risk.
April 14, 2012
Case for the prosecution Sodas, candy bars and sweet breakfast cereals are entwined in modern life - along with a lot of other questionable choices and bad habits. It's hard to know exactly what all of that sugar is doing to our bodies, but scientists are making headway. Some not-so-sweet findings: • In an unusual - and revealing - experiment from 2011, researchers at UC Davis fed 48 young adults a sugary but carefully controlled diet. In just two weeks, subjects who got 25% of their calories from either fructose or high-fructose corn syrup saw a jump in their cholesterol levels.
November 11, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
As Americans — including even young children — continue to get fatter, their risk for heart disease is climbing too. So a panel of experts now is recommending that all kids have their cholesterol checked at least once between ages 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21. Although children typically don't have heart attacks and strokes, evidence has been mounting for years that the roots of those diseases begin early in life, and the rising rates...
September 22, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Liposuction patients are usually after one thing: a better-looking body. But a new study suggests the cosmetic procedure that removes fat from well-padded areas of the body may also reduce harmful fat circulating in the blood. Research to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Denver was aimed at measuring triglyceride levels in 229 people having liposuction. In people with normal triglyceride levels, cosmetic surgery made no difference.
September 13, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Keeping cholesterol in check may not just be good for your heart--a study finds that people who have high cholesterol may at greater risk for brain plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer's disease. In the study, published today in the journal Neurology , brain specimens were examined from 147 autopsies that were done between 1998 and 2003. Among the Japanese participants all were free from signs of dementia when they were tested in 1988, but 34% were diagnosed with dementia before they died.
August 24, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
For patients with high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, doctors routinely reach for two remedies: cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and a diet that cuts out foods high in saturated fat, such as ice cream, red meat and butter. But new research has found that when it comes to lowering artery-clogging cholesterol, what you eat may be more important than what you don't eat. Released online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., the study found that incorporating several cholesterol-lowering foods — such as soy protein and nuts — into a diet can reduce bad cholesterol far more effectively than a diet low in saturated fat. In fact, the authors assert, levels of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, can drop to half that seen by many patients who take statins, sold under such names as Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor.
August 23, 2011 | By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
A new study found that people who'd had coronary bypass surgery were more than three times more likely to be alive 15 years later if they were happily married than if they were not married. A big part of this effect could be due to the positive influence of a supportive spouse, the authors say -- in getting the patient to live better, take meds, get to doctor appointments, etc. Plus marriage could give someone heightened reason and feeling of responsibility to look after themselves.
July 21, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Diabetes and heart disease are intertwined in ways that are still not fully understood. The most recent example of this complicated relationship is a study published Monday that finds an experimental medication designed to raise HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind) also appears to control blood sugar and may be helpful to people with Type 2 diabetes. The drug is called torcetrapib -- and it will never be approved. That's because, in clinical trials, the drug caused severe side effects even though it did raise HDL cholesterol.
June 9, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
All statins, a popular type of cholesterol-lowering drug, carry a low risk of muscle injury. But patients on the highest dose of the drug simvastatin, most commonly known as Zocor, seem to be at an elevated risk—so doctors should stop prescribing that dose for most people, the Food and Drug Administration has advised. That dose, 80 milligrams, should continue to be taken only by patients who have taken it for at least 12 months without muscle injury, the agency said Wednesday in a safety announcement . Everyone else should heed the FDA’s updated labels on simvastatin, and simvastatin-containing drugs such as Vytorin and Simcor.
May 31, 2011 | By Chris Woolston, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
The already confusing world of cholesterol control just got a little murkier. If you’re taking a combination of niacin (brand name Niaspan) along with a statin to protect your heart, news from the National Institutes of Health will make you want to seriously rethink your treatment. It may also leave you wondering: How important is cholesterol anyway? And how hard should you try to get the “right” numbers? For the Record, 1:06 p.m., June 2: A previous version of this post said the NIH stopped the trial after 32 months because it appeared the drug might be harming more patients than it helped.
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