Elevating your HDL game

Published: July, 2010

"Good" cholesterol levels can be increased in several ways, but taking niacin is the most effective.

Until fairly recently, all eyes have been on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as the target for prevention of heart attacks and, to a lesser degree, strokes. Lowering LDL became the goal partly because we had the medications to do it. The statin drugs, which include Lipitor, Zocor, and several varieties now available as generics, are effective. In studies, each 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) decrease in LDL achieved with a statin has translated, on average, into a 24% decrease in the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other major cardiovascular event.

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