High cholesterol assessment of risk for heart disease

August 5, 2011

The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has developed guidelines (ATP III guidelines) to help estimate the risk of disease due to high cholesterol, and guide efforts at prevention and treatment. Individuals can assess their personal risk for heart disease on the basis of their risk factors. The highest risk groups are people with diabetes, heart disease due to atherosclerosis (heart attack, bypass, or angioplasty), symptoms due to blockage of the carotid arteries, blockage of the arteries in the limbs, or who have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. These people should aim for an LDL less than 100 mg/dl.

For people without those conditions, add one point for each risk factor that they have:

  • Age (males 45 years or older; females 55 years or older)
  • Family history of early heart disease due to atherosclerosis such as heart attack, bypass, or angioplasty (father or brother affected before age 55; mother or sister affected before age 65)
  • Current cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure or taking blood pressure medicine
  • Low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) (“good”) cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dl)
  • Subtract one point if the HDL is 60 mg/dl or higher

People with two or more points should aim for an LDL less than 130 mg/dl. People with zero or one point should aim for an LDL less than 160 mg/dl.

SEE ALSO: Diabetes, Diet, Heart disease, Nutrition, Obesity

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Category: Elevated Cholesterol