ASCVD Risk Increases After 40: Expert Helps In Understanding The Complexity Of Cholesterol For Heart Health

ASCVD Risk Increases After 40: Expert Helps In Understanding The Complexity Of Cholesterol For Heart Health

Cardiovascular events are typically linked with advancing age, yet the concerning increase in such occurrences among young individuals presents a stark contrasting narrative. Some recent reports suggest that cardiovascular or heart diseases affected Indians a decade earlier compared to the Western population. Alarmingly, nearly two-thirds (62%) of all cardiovascular deaths in Indian populations are seen in younger populations. 

When it comes to heart health, we often hear the word “cholesterol” being mentioned, and mostly in a negative parlance. But what exactly is cholesterol, and why do young individuals need to pay equal attention to it and manage their heart health effectively?

What is cholesterol and its types?

Cholesterol, a vital fatty substance crucial for cell function and hormone production, exists in different types, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol which is known as “good cholesterol” and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is termed the “bad cholesterol”, and when present in excess, can lead to artery plaque build-up, heightening the risk of heart disease and stroke. As per a study, 6 out of 10 Indians are reported to have high LDL cholesterol. 

Is there a link between high LDL cholesterol levels and heart disease?

High levels of cholesterol can significantly increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD), including conditions such as heart attacks and strokes, remains a leading cause of death in India (mention the city name if suitable). The alarmingly high levels of LDL-C are a significant contributor to this epidemic. Elevated LDL-C levels can lead to a build-up of plaque, narrowing and blocking arteries. This reduces blood flow to the heart muscle, potentially leading to ASCVD. Therefore, estimation of levels of LDL-C is very important to assess the health of your heart.

Need for LDL cholesterol management among young individuals

Dr. Preeti Gupta, Associate Professor, Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, said, “I emphasize the significance of early cholesterol screening for young adults, typically beginning in their twenties. At least 50 patients I see have elevated LDL-C levels, a key contributor to cardiovascular diseases. Most patients who come are undiagnosed, and more than 50% of them have high LDL-C levels. People with familial predispositions can sometimes also go undiagnosed at times, and those over 40 are at a higher risk of developing ASCVD. Lifestyle choices combined with genetic factors can elevate cholesterol levels, which, if unaddressed, heighten the risk of cardiovascular diseases like ASCVD at a younger age. By the age of 20 years old, it becomes crucial to undergo cholesterol screening and check lipid profiles so that they can modify the risk factors and start the treatment early on. Every patient needs personalized prevention plans based on their unique LDL-C targets. It is also important to have the right lifestyle habits. Staying informed and proactive lays the foundation for a heart-healthy future.”

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