Doctors Call For Wider Use Of Statins

(November 12, 2013) New guidelines released Tuesday call for a lot more Americans to consider taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol.

The guidelines, the first in a decade for preventing heart attacks and strokes, are from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Under the guidelines, one third of all adults should consider taking the drugs.

“These new guidelines represent the best of what scientific research can tell us about how to prevent heart disease and stroke,” said American Heart Association president Dr. Mariell Jessup, medical director of the Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“These recommendations will help guide the clinical decisions doctors make every day to protect their patients from two of the nation’s biggest killers.”

The new recommendations include a new formula for estimating a person's risk, and it's a formula that includes many factors besides cholesterol, which is the main focus now.

The definition of high cholesterol isn't changing, but the treatment goal is.

Instead of aiming for a specific number, using whatever drugs get a patient there, the advice stresses such statins like Lipitor and Zocor, and it identifies four groups of people they help the most.

Dr. Neil Stone of Northwestern University, who headed the cholesterol guideline panel, says,

"We're going to give statins to those who are most likely to benefit."

Under the new advice, 33 million Americans, 44 percent of men and 22 percent of women, would meet the threshold to consider taking a statin.

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