Drugs Including Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor Help Cholesterol Declines in U.S. as Obesity Rises

Published: Oct 17, 2012

Drugs like Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Lipitor and healthier diets containing fewer trans fats have led to lower cholesterol levels in the U.S. in the past two decades, even as obesity rates soared, a study found. Total cholesterol declined 5 percent on average between 1988 and 2010, while “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 10 percent and “good” cholesterol, or HDL, rose 3.4 percent, according to research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The number of people using cholesterol-lowering medicines rose to 16 percent in 2007-2010 from 3 percent in 1988-1994. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Less smoking, better diets and widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicines have all helped to lower levels in the U.S., the authors said. About one-third of American adults are obese. “Even though we’ve had this increase in obesity, some of those negative consequences have been balanced by the reductions of smoking and trans fats in our diet,” said Donna Arnett, president of the Dallas-based American Heart Association, in a telephone interview yesterday. “In the U.S., we have been improving our cholesterol levels and improving our cardiovascular health and that’s good news. Researchers in the study analyzed data from 37,810 patients who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988-1994, 1999-2002 and 2007-2010.

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