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A Guide to Heart Health

Statins, diuretics, calcium channel blockers. Are these the wonder drugs of the 21st century or simply the easy out when it comes to high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure? Find out what the experts think.

One in every three adults in this country is walking around with high cholesterol and a similar number of us have elevated blood pressure. Yet hearing a doctor say, "your LDL is up" or "you have hypertension" isn't likely to spark the panic that "you have cancer" does. Maybe it should.

"People don't just suddenly have a heart attack one day. It's a progression of uncontrolled high blood pressure and untreated high cholesterol that can lead to devastating consequences," says Lisa Price Stevens, M.D., an internist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and author of What's That? A Tale of Cholesterol (Trafford Publishing).

Fortunately, much can be done to get both conditions under control, starting with adding some exercise to your daily routine and tweaking your diet. When that's not enough, doctors agree that medication may be necessary to get you the rest of the way. Here's what you need to know to deal with these treatable warning signs.