Statin drugs are used to lower cholesterol, which could prevent heart attacks and strokes. Although doctors usually prescribe them to patients at higher risk, cardiologists are recommending more widespread use.
The the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association are working together to change the existing guidelines. The new guidelines will increase the dosage for the most at-risk patients and lower it for those who experience adverse side-effects.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the new guidelines will also allow for more widespread use. Cardiologists say patients with high cholesterol, who are otherwise healthy, could benefit from the medication.
Dr. Michael Johansen, with Ohio State University, said there is a “misconception” that statin drugs are “for cholesterol reduction instead of a drug to prevent heart attacks and strokes.” He said doctors will find the new guidelines “far simpler and more effective.”
Cholesterol is a fat that is present in a majority of the body’s tissues. It is essential in digestion, cell function, and hormonal balance. Unfortunately, high concentrations of cholesterol in the blood can clog arteries. High cholesterol has been linked to family history, a diet high in saturated and trans fat, age, and overall bad health.
NBC News reports the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have urged doctors to instruct at-risk patients to modify their lifestyle in addition to taking medication. They recommend increasing exercise and consuming more whole grains and vegetables. Patients should also limit their consumption of meat, fish, and poultry.
Dr. Carl Orringer, with the Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said the new guidelines have many advantages. However, he is concerned that more patients will be exposed to the medications’ negative side-effects.
In some patients, Statin drugs may cause muscle weakness, confusion, memory loss, and elevated blood sugar. Despite the side-effects, doctors say the benefits far outweigh any risk.
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