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Good News in Heart Health: Cholesterol Levels in U.S. Adults Have Declined

DENTON, Texas — The battle of the mid-section bulge continues for millions of overweight Americans, but a major new study shows that one important piece of heart health is actually getting better for adults in the U.S. — cholesterol levels.

Blood cholesterol levels, which play an important role in a person’s risk for developing heart disease, have been a major issue among Americans for decades, experts say. Studies show that higher levels of the “bad” or L-D-L cholesterol and lower levels of the “good” or H-D-L cholesterol are major risk factors for coronary heart disease.

While too many Americans remain overweight, there is good news, according to researchers.

A major finding in the Oct. 17 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that total, non-high-density lipoprotein and low-density cholesterol declined in adults overall in the research study. While cholesterol levels improved for some adults because of cholesterol-lowering medications, researchers also believe the improvements could be attributed to a decrease in consumption of trans-fatty acids. Also called trans fats, they’re commonly used by food manufacturers because they’re more stable than vegetable oils and extend the shelf-life of food.

Many restaurants, including fast food retailers, prefer trans fats because they’re less expensive, especially when making fried foods. These trans fats are considered prime culprits in cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States.

The researchers added that their findings were not likely the result of changes in physical activity, obesity or intake of saturated fat (animal fat and tropical oils such as coconut and palm).

“It looks like this is a mix of good modern medicine and maybe that some folks are finally listening to what we’ve been preaching,” said Dr. Anna Burke, an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. “When it comes to diet, I always try to encourage my patients to use the approach of everything in moderation. For example, I don’t advocate soda consumption, but if you are going to drink it, don’t go for the 20-ounce, 250-calorie option. Instead, choose a smaller size with fewer calories.”

For more tools and tips for better managing your heart health, visit

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton is a 255-bed acute-care, full-service hospital that has served North Texas and southern Oklahoma since 1987. The hospital’s services include: heart and vascular; a Level III neonatal intensive care unit; orthopedics and sports medicine; neck, spine and pain management; emergency medicine; an accredited sleep center; women’s services; and a weight loss surgery program that has been designated a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. As one of the largest employers in Denton County, Texas Health Denton has more than 900 employees and more than 300 physicians on the medical staff practicing in more than 45 specialties. Texas Health Denton is an accredited chest pain center, and is certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and designated by the State of Texas as a Primary Stroke Facility. Texas Health Denton is an affiliate of Texas Health Resources, one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States.

For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.

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