The Rule of 40 can help heart health

Most of us have heard of the Rule of Thumb, the 5 Second Rule and possibly the Golden Rule. Doctors have got another rule to add to the repertoire -- the Rule of 40.

What can cut your risk of heart attack in half? Taking your cholesterol down 40 points.

"The Rule of 40 is really an astounding rule. That is, for every 40 points you lower cholesterol, there's good evidence in the scientific literature that you reduce your risk in half," says Beaumont Cardio Rehab director Barry Franklin.

To benefit from the rule of 40, you first need to know where your cholesterol stands and then realize that number is a very powerful prognosticator.

"If your cholesterol is 240, and you take it from 240 down to 200 you've cut your risk of a future heart attack in half. If you take it from 200 down to 160 you cut your risk in half again," says Franklin.

So, how would one go about cutting cholesterol anyway?

"Healthier eating, more regular exercise, sometimes weight loss, and sometimes you may need a drug to help you with it called a cholesterol lowering statin, which are highly cardio protective and widely prescribed," Franklin says.

Remember, our bodies need cholesterol and our bodies make cholesterol, but either because of the foods we're eating or because of our genetics, too much of this waxy substance ends up in circulating in our blood.

"If you pick the wrong parents, your risk of heart disease, premature, is doubled," Franklin says. "That said - that's the bad news. The good news is if you follow a healthy lifestyle, you'll cut your risk in half."

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