|James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., Director|
Back in the early 1950s, the classic 'town in a test tube' study, started in Framingham, Massachusetts, provided researchers with interesting and intriguing data on what caused heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments. A group of 5,200 residents agreed to participate in a longitudinal study to understand the nature of coronary heart disease. Tracking their cholesterol levels and blood pressure for over 50 years has provided the "smoking gun" regarding the inherent dangers of living with high cholesterol. Drs. Brown and Goldstein won the Nobel Prize in 1985 for advancing our knowledge on the biochemistry and physiology of cholesterol, and for providing researchers with the clue that the bad cholesterol, known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein, was one of the key components that led to heart disease. Up to this point, the primary target was to lower total cholesterol, which is primarily a combination of three substances: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or LDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It wasn't that long ago that a cholesterol level under 240 was considered safe. Today that number has dropped to below 200, and the latest research suggests that under 180 is ideal.