American Heart Association Urges Wider Use of Statins, New Guidelines

First Posted: Nov 14, 2013 09:04 AM EST

Estimates from the American Heart Association show that high cholesterol levels left untreated can lead to fatal heart conditions. In fact, for individuals over 45-years-old and on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, it may not be enough to heal the health issue, even though nearly a fourth of Americans use these medications. Fortunately, this health organization and the American College of Cardiology have come up with new guidelines for people using statin drugs that could dramatically change the health issue.

"It's really about your global risk," commented Donald Lloyd-Jones, the chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University, according to the Washington Post. "There were a number of people at substantial risk, who, under the old paradigm, were not being capture."

After four years of research, the new recommendations were drafted by 20 experts including Lloyd-Jones. The cardiologists behind the revised guidelines believe that this new formula could potentially help physicians estimate their patients' risks of heart attacks and stroke more accurately, as many medical officials have previously been focused only on "bad" cholesterol that is the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL).

Many guidelines still suggest that such affects can create risks for cardiovascular issues, including guidelines that may encourage physicians to evaluate age, blood pressure, weight, smoking habit and other conditions that may contribute to heart disease.

The new guidelines urge physicians to prescribe statins for those with moderate risks of heart attack or stroke regardless of LDL levels.

For 33 million Americans who might not yet have a heart condition, these new guidelines mean that those with a 7.5 percent or higher chance for developing such a health issue within the next decade could be prescribed statins.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that in the United States alone, heart disease is the leading killer among both men and women, marking one in every four deaths. 

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