New Statin Guidelines Drop Rigid Cholesterol Targets

    November 12, 2013
    Jennifer Curra
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A recent study from the combined efforts of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology has many wondering whether it is time to consider taking statins on a regular basis to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol.

The four year study claims that taking the prescribed level of statins instead of ritualistically monitoring cholesterol levels through scheduled blood tests will now suffice.

The guidelines have also added another risk group into the mix of the need-to-take-statins group, mainly strokes. Previously, risk factors focused on those who had experienced heart attacks or who had diabetes, for example. Considerations for having a genetic predisposition will continue to influence potential risks. While these guidelines do not supplant the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle inclusive of exercise and appropriate eating patterns, the emphasis in monitoring dangers has been altered.

The new guidelines have caused some medical providers to be concerned that members of the public may not understand exactly when adopting the new guidelines becomes a necessity. According to Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, who is a cardiologist and Yale professor, “Now one in four Americans over 40 will be saying, ‘Should I be taking this any more?’”

These guidelines are being met with controversy where members of the medical community debate whether cutting cholesterol is the healthiest option, especially considering the brain’s composition which includes a percentage of cholesterol. Some physicians have warned women, in particular, from taking statins.

Pharmaceutical companies may see profits increase as a result of the recent change in guidelines, which has caused some to question the underlying reason for the study. However, the new shift changes the emphasis from focusing on obtaining a specific cholesterol target amount such as an LDL of 65 to rather just consistently taking statins. Previous guidelines were so stringent in reaching a set level that additional medications besides statins would be prescribed to lower cholesterol. These new guidelines focus on taking the determined dosage of statins on the prescribed basis, but not on using additional medications to reach that level.

[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]

  • http://www.drsinatra.com/ Dr. Stephen Sinatra

    While many aspects of these new guidelines concern me, one of the biggest is the concerns I have is the recommendation to use statin in people with diabetes. First off, statins can actually contribute to type 2 diabetes. In fact, last year the FDA began requiring statin manufacturers to put a diabetes warning on their labels. So giving statins to people who already have diabetes doesn’t make sense.

    Plus, the data demonstrates that for men with diabetes statin drug use can lead to calcification of the coronary arteries. There’s also documented evidence that cataracts are more common in those taking statin drugs. And since people with diabetes are already more prone to cataracts, the use of statins for this population can be harmful.

    A far better intervention for people with type 2 diabetes, or pre-diabetes, is lifestyle changes—including diet therapy; weight reduction; avoidance of sugars; exercise; use of raw foods, particularly vegetables; and targeted nutritional supplements.

    On my blog I actually went through each of the guidelines one-by-one outlining my concerns: http://ow.ly/qN2vv.

    Dr. Stephen Sinatra
    Board Certified Cardiologist
    Assistant Clinical Profession, Connecticut University School of Medicine