High cholesterol levels increase a middle-aged man's risk of having a heart attack more than a woman's, new research suggests.
The study, published in the journal Epidemiology
, is based on an analysis of the medical records of more than 40,000 Norwegians and suggests a review of current clinical guidelines for treating high cholesterol levels, which do not differentiate between men and women.
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"Our results suggest that in middle age, high cholesterol levels are much more detrimental for men than women, so that prevention efforts in this age group will have a greater potential to reduce the occurrence of a first heart attack in men," said Erik Madssen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging.
The researchers tracked blood samples and health records from 23,525 women and 20,725 men over a 12-year period. During that time, there were 157 new cases of heart attacks in women and 553 in men.
"Our findings suggest that middle-aged men with an unfortunate cholesterol profile have a significant additional risk of myocardial infarction than what previously has been thought," the researchers concluded. "Thus, these men should be treated more aggressively than what often is the case today, so that more infarctions can be prevented and lives can be saved."
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