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I hope you’ve had your cholesterol checked and are making any changes necessary to improve your health.  There is a plethora of information available about what to eat, how much to exercise, and what not to do that makes it easy enough to do the right things, if you are motivated. Even if you haven’t started, you’d better do it now!  A new research study suggests that there is even more some people should be doingto reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease heart attackand standard testing won’t identify the risk.  A coronary artery CT (computed tomography) scan can reveal coronary artery calcium buildups that are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  The scary part of this news is that there are no symptoms so you won’t know if you are at risk.  Unfortunately, the research isn’t suggesting that this scan become widespread or even that having the information will be able to make a difference in reducing your risk.

The increase in coronary calcium buildup could identify patients who should have more aggressive treatment to reduce LDL (low-density) cholesterol levels, even if with a standard test they appear to be in the low range.  Other tests, including the PLAC test, can identify hidden risks that would indicate that a more aggressive treatment regimen should be followed as well, but these tests take time to be included in a physician’s standard testing procedures.  Independent laboratories can provide many tests that physician’s can’t yet, but the CT scan may not be cost effective, especially since research hasn’t shown that lowering LDL cholesterol levels in these patients will reduce their cardiovascular risk.

As researchers discover new risks all the public can do is worry.  Unhealthy habits, such as a diet high in cholesterol and other fats, smoking, and lack of exercise accelerate the deposit of fat and calcium within the inner lining of coronary arteries, also known as arterial plaque.  The bottom line is that it’s a good idea to work on being healthy, through diet, exercise, and eliminating smoking whether you know you’re at risk for disease or not.  No one should be waiting for a problem to surface before trying to prevent health issues.  Take charge of your health!