New Cholesterol Treatment Guidelines Further Encourage the Use of Statins


Leading heart specialists have cajoled people to regularly measure their cholesterol level and try to get it lower whenever possible. Cholesterol is an important substance and the new guideline has thrown out a notion that after reaching a certain blood cholesterol level, people should seek treatments with any cholesterol-lowering medication. The notion that patients should be treated with drugs until levels of bad cholesterol reach specific target is also now out the window.

The guidelines also group people into multiple categories likely to receive benefits from any cholesterol-lowering drugs. They include patients suffering from diabetes and heart disease; also those with abnormal levels of bad cholesterol, the LDL. The guidelines tell health professionals explicitly that they should use statins, saying that they are the only drugs proven to lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks. The implication of the new guidelines is clear; it would significantly increase the number of patients in the United States who adopt the lifelong therapies using statins.

We still can’t be sure how many people in the US are already using statin drugs. Based on the earlier guidelines, about 15 million adults are recommended for treatment and the new guidelines could double that to 30 millions. However, according to certain estimates; people who currently take statin drugs could already reach that number

There are could be a significant number of people with cholesterol problems who are on statins therapy and the new guidelines are designed to treat them smarter and better; by focusing on group of patients likely to get the most benefits. Statins are now available in the US under different brand names, including Zocor, Lipitor and Crestor. They may cost between $5 and $150 each month.

Both the American Heart Association and AmericanCollege of Cardiology developed the new guidelines jointly at the behest of a federal agency, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The guidelines are implemented based on the latest researches on prevention of strokes and heart attacks. Experts believe that the new guidelines would pay off eventually reducing the number of patients in the United States suffering from cholesterol-related diseases.

It’s clear that health professionals in the US will need to treat many more patients, because cholesterol-related diseases are a big problem. Up to a third of strokes and heart attacks patients in the US are dying and the new guidelines could offers ways forward to better define those who should get statins-based treatments.