November 19, 2013
New Guidelines for Cholesterol Management
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Abnormal levels of LDL cholesterol or HDL cholesterol have been treated with a low-fat diet, exercise, and medications such as statins.New guidelines released Tuesday by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology change the standards for who should be taking these cholesterol-lowering drugs. "The new focus is on risk" rather than simply a cholesterol number, says Timothy Henry, MD, director of cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. "This is a plan for dealing with cardiovascular risk.'' More Americans could benefit from statins According to the new guidelines, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should now be prescribed to an estimated 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years. These new guidelines could double the number of people on medication to lower their cholesterol, experts say. This is a dramatic change from the 2002 federal cholesterol guideline, which recommended that people should only take a statin if their 10-year risk level exceeded 20 percent. The old guideline only considered a person’s risk for heart disease, leaving out the risk for stroke.
- People without cardiovascular disease who are 40 to 75 years old and have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for heart attack or stroke within 10 years.
- People with a history of heart attack, stroke, stable or unstable angina, peripheral artery disease, transient ischemic attack, or coronary or other arterial revascularization.
- People 21 and older who have a very high level of bad cholesterol (190 mg/dL or higher).
- People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who are 40 to 75 years old.