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Americans Urged to Exercise and Diet

The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recently issued new guidelines in order to help combat heart disease. More than 36 million Americans are candidates for heart disease — three times as many as the NCEP last reported.

The new guidelines urge Americans to adopt lifestyle changes to reduce their risks for such disease. Among the recommendations are:

  • Reduce amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol:no more than 7% of daily caloric intake should be from saturated fat.
  • Follow a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish.
  • Select foods with sterols and stanols, which lower the level of bad cholesterol: Margarine and salad dressings often contain these. • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

The guidelines also suggest that anyone over the age of 20 should get a lipoprotein profile blood test every five years — this measures LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels in your blood.

The NCEP guidelines state that an optimum LDL level remains below 100mg.

Patients are urged to ask their doctors to calculate their risk profiles to help them better assess their risk for heart disease.

Ronald Krauss, heart disease expert at the University of California-Berkeley, said it’s time for doctors to incorporate detailed recommendations into their practices.

Such recommendations would give patients fair warning about their potential risks — and could lower their risk with changes in lifestyles.

Krauss also noted that such changes should be in lifestyle and in exercise — not changes found in a pill.

SOURCE: “America gets a red alert on cholesterol level,” USA Today, June 19, 2001.