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For Cholesterol Control, Experts Urge More Than Meds
Date:12/28/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Advances in medical science have made it easier than ever to lower dangerous cholesterol levels.

A class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins have proven particularly effective, reducing the risk for heart-related death by as much as 40 percent in people who have already suffered a heart attack, said Dr. Vincent Bufalino, president and chief executive of Midwest Heart Specialists and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

"People have said we need them in the drinking water because they are just so effective in lowering cholesterol," Bufalino said.

But he and other doctors warn that when it comes to controlling cholesterol and enjoying overall health, nothing beats lifestyle changes, such as a heart-friendly diet and regular exercise.

"Once we became a fast-food generation, it's just too easy to order it at the first window, pick it up at the second window and eat it on the way to soccer," Bufalino said. "We need to get you to change now or you're going to end up as one of these statistics."

Folks with high cholesterol often are overweight, and if they deal with their cholesterol through medication only, they leave themselves open to such other chronic health problems as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis, said Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

The thought of controlling cholesterol solely through medication is "an unfortunate point of view," Lichtenstein said. "There are a lot of other factors, especially when it comes to body weight, that the medications won't help. The idea that 'I'll just take medications' isn't a very healthy option, especially for the long term."

That point of view seems to be bolstered by new evidence that
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