Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Cholesterol level in middle age predicts length and quality of life

Many of the studies described in the Harvard Heart Letter last only a few years. That's why one covering four decades caught our attention.

Finnish researchers who followed more than 3,000 men for almost 40 years found that those with the lowest total cholesterol levels (154 mg/dL or less), measured when they were 30 to 45 years old, lived on average more than five years longer than men with the highest midlife cholesterol levels (greater than 347 mg/dL). Those with lower midlife cholesterol levels also functioned better physically in old age than their high-cholesterol counterparts (American Journal of Cardiology, Sept. 1, 2011).

This study also suggested that cholesterol levels measured in middle age may be better at predicting longevity than levels measured later on.

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