Reducing low-density lipoprotein by 1 mmol/L and blood pressure by 10 mmHg decreases heart and circulatory disease risk by 80 percent, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
That preventative approach also decreased death risk from those diseases by 67 percent.
“Even small reductions in both ‘bad’ cholesterol and blood pressure for sustained periods of time can pay very big health dividends, and dramatically reduce the lifetime risk of developing heart and circulatory disease,” Brian A. Ference, a researcher at the University of Cambridge and study lead researcher, said in a news release. “We now plan to take the results from this study to create a lifetime cardiovascular risk calculator and to support the development of new prevention guidelines.”
Researchers analyzed data on more than 438,952 people who took part in the U.K. Biobank, of whom nearly 25,000 had non-fatal heart attacks, ischemic strokes or died due to coronary disease.
The participants were divided into three groups: those genetically-predisposed to lower blood pressure, those with genetically-predisposed lower LDL cholesterol and those with both predispositions. LDL levels and systolic blood pressure levels among the three groups were compared to people without the genetic links.
The researchers found that reducing LDL cholesterol levels by just 0.3 mmol/L and blood pressure by 3 mmHg could reduce heart and circulatory disease risk by 50 percent over a lifetime.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, while 33 percent of adults have high LDL cholesterol.
“Millions of people are living with untreated high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, both of which can be lowered with lifestyle changes and medication,” said Nilesh Samani, the medical director at the British Heart Foundation. “Huge numbers of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented simply by getting to know your numbers and taking your health into your own hands.”