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Cholesterol in U.S. adults declining

When it comes to coronary artery disease in the United States, there's good news and bad news.

The good news? Average levels of the worst forms of cholesterol are dropping among U.S. adults.

The bad news? Americans are achieving those better numbers not so much by changing their diet or ramping up their exercise, but largely by taking statins, which are cholesterol-lowering medications.

A comprehensive look at how Americans are faring in the battle against coronary artery disease shows that over about 22 years, total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called "bad" cholesterol) have declined. But the percentage of adults taking anti-cholesterol medications has climbed, as well.

In addition to looking at the average levels of cholesterol and factors associated with increased risk of heart disease, the researchers noted whether participants were taking statins. They did not note, however, the type of statin taken or the strength of the dose.

The researchers examined the amount of lipids (fats, oils) in the blood of adults between 1988 and 2010, using three cross-sectional U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys involving nearly 38,000 people combined.

The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.-- HealthDay

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