Two Signs of Heart Trouble

High blood pressure and elevated LDL cholesterol add up to danger

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MONDAY, Aug. 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The combination of high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol add up to serious risk for heart attack, says a Penn State College of Medicine study.

Researchers examined data from about 14,500 people from four American communities who took part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and were followed for an average of nine years.

People with high blood pressure had an incidence rate for heart attack of 16 cases per 10,000 people per year while those with high LDL cholesterol had an incidence of 12.

The expected incidence for people with both elevated LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure might be expected to be 28 -- the sum of both risks. But this study found that people with both risks actually had a heart attack incidence rate of 51.

"The observed disease rate due to the combination of these two risk factors was significantly higher than what was expected," lead investigator Dr. Duanping Liao, an associate professor of health evaluation sciences, said in a prepared statement.

"In terms of excess risk, 31 percent of the risk of developing heart attack among people with both high blood pressure and elevated LDL cholesterol was attributable to the synergistic interaction of these two risk factors," Liao said.

The results showed that people with high blood pressure, elevated LDL cholesterol or both have a 1.95, 1.70 and 3.31 times greater risk of heart attack than people without either high blood pressure of elevated LDL cholesterol.

"This study highlighted the need for physicians to consider treating both high blood pressure and high cholesterol in persons with both risk factors because the patient's risk of developing a heart attack is beyond simple addition of each risk factor acting alone," Liao said.

The findings were presented Aug. 30 at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart attack.

SOURCE: Penn State University, news release, Aug. 30, 2004

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