Published on November 18th, 2013
For years now doctors have been begging patients to maintain low levels of cholesterol and stay up to date with prescribed medication, now heart specialists are changing the course of action.
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new guidelines that steer away from chasing target cholesterol levels, knowing your risk of heart disease and for use of drug therapy – make use of statins. Currently, 15.5 percent of American adults are utilizing statins, with the change that number can increase to about 31 percent.
Statins have been prescribed in the past to reduce those at risk of heart attack, but the updated guidelines are also recommending prescription for adults at high risk of stroke and high cholesterol levels. Here is what you need to know about the updated cholesterol guidelines.
What were the Target Cholesterol Levels of the Past?
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), known as bad cholesterol, which can form plaque deposits along coronary arteries. The plaque build up within arteries interferes with blood flow and if one of the deposits ruptures it can lead to clot formations which then makes a heart attack and stroke more likely.
People with very high levels of LDL are still expected to lower their number to a specific target as their doctors require. The new guidelines set the LDL level at 190 milligrams per deciliter, but those with very high cholesterol levels are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The “know your number campaign” is not going to be as relevant as it was in the past and doctors prescribing multiple medications to get to a lower LDL level should be less likely to occur.
Knowing Your Risk of Heart Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure and high levels of LDL in cholesterol and smoking are contributing factors of heart disease, and about half of Americans are affected by at least one of these risks. Determining your risk and need for prescription assistance should include the following questions:
- Do you have heart disease?
- Do you have diabetes? Type 1 or 2?
- Is bad cholesterol level higher than 190?
- Is your 10 year risk of heart attack greater than 7.5 percent?
According to the new guidelines, answering yes to any of these questions, the individual should be prescribed the use of statins.
Make Use of Statin Medications
Statin medications are effective in lowering cholesterol and helps the body absorb cholesterol plaque build up in artery walls. This prevents blood flow from clogging and reduces the chances of heart attack occurrences. The guidelines make it a point that if the individual is cleared by their doctor to engage in drug treatment, the drug choice should be statins.
Some statins may not be tolerated, but consulting with your doctor to find one that is right is suggested. They may turn to compounding pharmacists to administer proper dosage levels for those on more than one medication. The bottom line is people who are at risk of heart attack and stroke due to high cholesterol should be using statins as preventive medication.
The change of cholesterol guidelines can boost the number of statin therapy to double than the current amount, bringing the total to almost 72 million eligible Americans.
The main points to take away from the new guidelines is that patients no longer need to chase after cholesterol targets as much as they used to, know their risk of heart attacks, and resort to using statins to prevent those risks while reducing bad cholesterol.