High cholesterol in teens, early 20s leads to heart problems by middle age

High Cholesterol Blood Pressure Tiny People Character

When it comes to high cholesterol, the younger you have it, the longer the consequences might stick to you, even if you get it under control before reaching your late thirties. These are the findings of an NHLBI-funded study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Another key finding of this study, based on data from the NHLBI-funded Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA), is that the damage an elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad” cholesterol, does to the arteries seems to be irreversible and cumulative. The longer a young person had high cholesterol, the greater the risks of developing cardiovascular disease.

“We found having an elevated LDL cholesterol level at a young age raises the risk of developing heart disease, and the elevated risk persists even in those who were able to later lower their LDL cholesterol levels,” said study leader Michael Domanski, MD, a Professor of Medicine at UMSOM. For instance, two people with the same cholesterol level at age 40 may have very different risks of having a heart attack or stroke with risk being higher for the person who had higher cholesterol as a teenager.