New Statin Guidelines Drop Rigid Cholesterol Targets

    November 12, 2013

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]