BFP Magazine

Cardio-vascular Health

Cholesterol Test, Myth

Can you score 75 on this Cholesterol test?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

How many readers can pass this test on cholesterol? If you score 75, television commercials haven't lead you astray. But if you're scratching your head for the answers it's time you separated fact from fiction on this issue. Give yourself four points for each correct answer.

1.The higher the blood cholesterol the greater the chance of heart attack.

2. Women are more likely to have a higher blood cholesterol than men.

3. Shellfish and red meat have a high cholesterol content. Alcohol and chicken are low in cholesterol.

4. Heredity plays no role in determining the level of blood cholesterol.

5. Cholesterol in the body is a constituent of bile salts which promote digestion and absorption of fats.

6. Eggs are a major source of cholesterol. Since heart disease is now the number one killer eggs should never be eaten.

7. Cholesterol levels of healthy Scottish males in Edinburgh and Swedish males in Stockholm are identical. But the coronary death rate for the Scottish male is three times higher.

8. Obesity has virtually no effect on blood cholesterol.

9. It is unrealistic to believe that changing one risk factor such as blood cholesterol will cure heart disease.

10. Blood cholesterol determinations are extremely accurate.

11. Diabetes, smoking and hypertension is often associated with a high blood cholesterol.

12. North Americans should eat about 3,000 milligrams of cholesterol a day.

13. Patients with high blood cholesterol who are treated with the cholesterol lowering drug, cholestyramine suffered 30 per cent fewer heart attacks and coronary deaths than those not taking this medication. But the death statistics remained the same since they were dying from other causes such as accidental deaths, gastrointestinal cancers, liver problems and stones in the gallbladder. It appeared these patients were exchanging one devil for another.

14. Cholesterol is not manufactured in the body. It is obtained from the foods we eat.

15. One study revealed that increased levels of fibrinogen in the blood is a better predictor of coronary heart disease than cholesterol.

16. If you substitute margarine for butter it's unlikely you'll suffer a heart attack.

17. Stress can cause major changes in blood cholesterol. For instance,in one study blood cholesterol in medical students increased 25 per cent during medical examinations. In another, blood cholesterol jumped 35 per cent when novice flyers started aerobatic manoeuvers. And when patients are admitted to hospital for surgery cholesterol content can shoot up as much as 40 to 60 per cent.

18. We should all eat more saturated fats to help lower the blood cholesterol.

19. The best preventative for patients with borderline levels of cholesterol is to stay thin, get plenty of exercise, eat a balanced diet, stop smoking and relax with a scotch- and- soda before dinner.

20. High protein foods like meat have no hidden fat in them.

21. Japanese males living in California suffer three times more coronary heart disease than Japanese in Japan. But there is no significant difference between the cholesterol levels of those in California and Japan.

22. Patients who have a coronary by-pass operation all have abnormal levels of blood cholesterol.

23. Cholesterol-free labels appear on some foods that have never been known as sources of cholesterol.

24. Estrogen treatment in post-menopausal women does not help to prevent heart attack.

25. Dr. Michael Debakey, the famous heart surgeon, reports that atherosclerosis is not simply due to elevated blood cholesterol. And that 30 per cent of people with relatively low levels still develop this disease.

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He's been a ship's surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: He can be reached at

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