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To combat cardiovascular disease the focus should be on lowering bad cholesterol – not just increasing the use of statins. That's one of the main takeaways from new cholesterol guidelines just released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
The guidelines include treatment for people at high risk and offer a personalized risk assessment. The recommendations also encourage health care providers to assess whether a new drug is having the desired effect, within 12 weeks.
“I believe they represent significant positive steps in the way we treat cholesterol and the way we need to assess patients’ cardiovascular risk,” says Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
Nearly 800,000 people die of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular related diseases in the U.S. each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Amy Pollak, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says she’s excited about the new guidelines because a lot has happened since 2013. "The revised guidelines do a beautiful job of integrating the data that’s come out over the last five years," says Dr. Pollak. "This has been much anticipated, and I think it will be a very useful tool for health care providers and patients as we talk about the right cholesterol level for a given patient, what the future risk of heart disease might be for that patient, and is there a role for medications."
Review highlights from the new statement: