The Annals of Cardiology No. 12 | Millennials and the Vascular Selfie
Last week I met Jared Kleinert, the 22-year-old who USA Today has dubbed: “The Most Connected Millennial”. He came to Bermuda to run a marathon and speak at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
I wanted to attend his lecture, pick up his new book “3 Billion under 30”, and gain a better understanding of Millennials. I mostly knew they were subservient to electronic devices, they were fearless in their career endeavors, and they took lots of selfies. I’d recently read that Chinese Millennials had perfected the art of selfies by employing a self-beautifying Meitu app (“beautiful picture”, in Chinese) to remove blemishes, smooth skin, and re-sculpt cheekbones before posting their faces, six billion times per month, to the world.
But selfie obsession wasn’t why I wanted to meet Jared. I was interested in his connectivity, his ability to reach billions of followers, and also, I wanted to know what his cholesterol was.
My curiosity about Jared’s cholesterol arose after a concerning study appeared in last month’s Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Everyone knows high cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis, the condition in which plaque accumulates in arteries, eventually leading to heart attacks, strokes, and limb amputations. But what about healthy people with perfectly normal cholesterol levels? Dr. Leticia Fernandez-Friera and her Spanish colleagues studied 1800 healthy patients, mostly in their 40s, who had normal cholesterol levels (total cholesterol <240 mg/dL and LDL or “bad cholesterol” <160 mg/dL and HDL or “good cholesterol” >40 mg/dL) and no other risk factors for developing atherosclerosis. They didn’t smoke, they weren’t diabetic, they didn’t have high blood pressure, they weren’t overweight, they ate right, and they all exercised. Using CAT scans and ultrasounds, however, she found that about 50% of them already had atherosclerosis. Yikes.
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