Cardiovascular disease risk reduced with lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure combination. Study lead investigator Brian Ference explained, “[The results] demonstrate for the first time that LDL cholesterol and SBP [systolic blood pressure] have independent, multiplicative, and cumulative causal effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease. This suggests that a simple strategy that encourages long-term exposure to the combined reduction of both one mmol/L in LDL-C and 10 mm Hg SBP has the potential to “largely eliminate” the lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease — with a reduction of up to 90 percent.”
The study looked at genetic risk factors from 102,773 individuals. Participants were divided into four groups based on their calculated genetic score: the reference group, a group with an LDL cholesterol genetic score below the median (resulting in lower LDL cholesterol), a group with a systolic blood pressure genetic score below the median (resulting in lower systolic blood pressure), and a group with both LDL cholesterol and systolic blood pressure genetic scores below the median (resulting in both lower LDL cholesterol and lower systolic blood pressure).
The researchers then looked at cardiovascular risk associated with the genetic scores, with primary outcome of either coronary death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, non-fatal stroke, or coronary revascularization.
There were 14,368 primary outcomes among the participants. Those with both lower LDL cholesterol and lower systolic blood pressure had 86.1 percent lower risk of the primary outcome, compared to the reference group.
Dr. Ference concluded, “The results of our study confirm that cardiovascular disease is largely preventable and suggest that this prevention can be substantially simplified by focusing on programs that promote long-term exposure to the combination of both lower LDL and lower SBP. Further study is needed to identify who might benefit most from this type of early intervention.”
Importance of blood pressure and cholesterol screening
Knowing your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers is important as these offer a useful insight into your cardiovascular health. If you monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers regularly, you can spot any changes to your numbers early on, allowing for early intervention to reduce your cardiovascular risk.
Cardiovascular screening can start as early as your 20s, and frequency of checkups will vary, depending on your family history and your numbers. If results show high risk factors for a cardiovascular event, then you should check in with your doctor more often.
Blood pressure is a large contributing factor for heart-related problems. Because it is often symptomless, it can go on for years causing damage with you completely unaware of what’s going on in your body. High levels of cholesterol do not present immediate symptoms, too, but there are some warning signs which may be indicative of a problem, such as spots or cholesterol deposits around the eyes. Without proper screening for both blood pressure and cholesterol, you could be unknowingly putting your heart at risk for disease.
Lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in improving cholesterol and blood pressure. Being aware of your risk early on can help you put into place healthy lifestyle interventions in order to better control your blood pressure and cholesterol.