National Cholesterol Education Program

My Cholesterol Is Too Low for the Heart Attack Risk Calculator!

I tried to use the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating Your 10-Year Risk of Having a Heart Attack. I entered my data on the form, and I got back an error message, telling me to enter a total cholesterol value of 130 or greater! According to the calculator, even if my cholesterol went up to 130 mg/dL, I’d still have less than a 1% chance of having a heart attack within the next 10 years.

(Note: here’s a live version of the tool, which does not give an error message: https://www.cardiosmart.org/healthwise/calc/006/calc006)

If I ran the National Cholesterol Education Program, I’d really educate people about cholesterol. I’d tell them the simple truth: that when you keep your total cholesterol at less than 150 mg/dL, coronary artery disease ceases to exist. Nearly everyone can easily achieve that goal by eating a low-fat (<10% of calories), plant-based diet.

Instead, the NCEP tells people that a total cholesterol level of  up to 200 mg/dL is “desirable.” Lots of people with this “desirable” cholesterol level are dying of heart attacks, which is why many people, including many doctors, are confused.Photo by winnifredxoxo