Take Charge of Your Cholesterol

By Carolyn Edy

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A man lounges on a float in a swimming pool, drink in hand -- oblivious to the shark fin right behind him. "Living with high cholesterol," reads the ad, "you could be surprised by what's lurking beneath."

When you want to motivate people, it helps to scare them. It also helps to simplify the solution. For years now, pharmaceutical companies have done just that: hyped up and dumbed down the cholesterol problem to boost their bottom line. To be sure, the general message that high cholesterol is bad has raised the public's awareness about cardiovascular health. Many of us know our numbers; even if we don't, we're aware that we should know them. Yet despite strong messages and powerful drugs, cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer of U.S. adults. Why? Among other factors, cholesterol is a vastly more complex issue than the commercials let on. "The public thinks that if their LDL cholesterol is not high, they'll be fine in regards to heart disease," says Dr. Robert Superko, chairman of molecular, genetic, and preventive cardiology at the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta. "And that is a great misconception."

To bring you up to date on recent developments, we talked with four renowned cardiologists and asked them to give us the best and latest information on "good" and "bad" cholesterol, other lipoproteins, and related testing -- as well as natural methods for helping to keep your lipids in balance. Although cholesterol has proven more complicated than most of us realize, one fact hasn't changed: Healthy living remains your best defense against heart disease -- and there is no time like the present to get on track.

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