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November 13, 1995

Cholesterol Screening: Once Is Not Enough

Author Affiliations

Director of Laboratories Framingham Heart Study National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 5 Thurber St Framingham, MA 01701

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(20):2146-2147. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430200017004

CHOLESTEROL TESTING has changed remarkably since the middle 1980s. Millions of asymptomatic Americans have been tested1 and retested. The advent of tabletop chemistry analyzers and portable testing devices,2 the introduction of medications that favorably affect atherosclerotic risk and prognosis,3-5 and the dissemination of a National Cholesterol Education Program6,7 have led to an increase in cholesterol awareness and intervention. An article in this issue of the Archives8 concerns an important facet of this issue: the accuracy and utility of cholesterol testing and retesting.

In this issue of the Archives, Forrow et al8 present data on more than 1000 individuals who participated in a cholesterol screening program and then were retested 17 months later. Participants with initially high levels of cholesterol typically had lower levels at follow-up, and the authors attributed a considerable degree of the reduction to "regression to the mean." These results provide an