The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have released a new set of guidelines that are considered to be a redirect in the course of treatment for high LDL cholesterol, which affects approximately 25% of middle-aged Americans.
The standard of care maintains that Americans with diabetes or a history of heart attacks should be offered statin medications since they are at a greater risk for future heart attacks (except in unusual circumstances).
Americans that are plagued by persistently high “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL over 190) should be offered statin medications to help lower their LDL cholesterol and consequently, reduce their risk for a heart attack. In the past, physicians also encouraged patients to bring their LDL down to 70 when starting statin therapy. The new guidelines state that lowering one’s LDL cholesterol to 70 is now an unwarranted step, making statins potentially unnecessary for people solely taking them to reach a targeted low.
The new guidelines are also instructing physicians to use an updated risk formula that measures a person’s blood pressure, age, total cholesterol, history of strokes, and other factors to calculate their individual risk for a future heart attack. When a patient’s overall risk is above a certain threshold (approximately 7.5% +), they should be offered statin medications. The only thing that will vary by risk is the dose of the medication itself.
Ultimately, the new guidelines will make keeping one’s LDL cholesterol levels under control a much simpler and more precise process.