Researchers led by Dr Mark Plethcher of University of California, San Francisco, followed 3,258 adults taking part in a long-term study of heart health. Participants’ lipid levels were measured over 15 to 20 years.
At the end of the study, CT scans were used to measure coronary artery calcium. Coronary calcium was found in 44% of participants with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels above 4.14mmol/L, compared with 8% of participants with LDL levels below 1.81 mmol/L.
Writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers concluded: ‘Young adults and their physicians should realize that what they eat and how much they exercise seem to matter even early in life, when short-term coronary heart disease risk is extremely low, and that healthy behaviours should not be deferred until middle age.’