Lowering cholesterol with diet, exercise and drugs lowers heart risk

22 October 2013        

Category: BHF Comment

Woman shopping for groceries at the supermarket

A cardiologist has argued that saturated fat may not play a significant role in raising heart attack and stroke risk – an opposing view to established dietary advice and guidelines.

Aseem Malhotra, from Croydon University Hospital in London, says advice to reduce saturated fat intake has actually increased cardiovascular disease risk. He claims a focus on reducing cholesterol means too many people now take statins. 

Lowering cholesterol, by whatever means, lowers risk.

Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: “Studies on the link between diet and disease frequently produce conflicting results because, unlike drug trials, it’s very difficult to undertake a properly controlled, randomised study.

“However, people with highest cholesterol levels are at highest risk of a heart attack and it’s also clear that lowering cholesterol, by whatever means, lowers risk.

“Cholesterol levels can be influenced by many factors including dietexercise and drugs, in particular statins. There is clear evidence that patients who have had a heart attack, or who are at high risk of having one, can benefit from taking a statin. But this needs to be combined with other essential measures, such as eating a balanced diet, not smoking and taking regular exercise.”

The editorial was published in the British Medical Journal.