5 Key Points About the New Cholesterol Guidelines

November 26, 2013

This post was written by nutrition student and Nutritioulicious blogger Ann Lokuta

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recently released new guidelines for physicians to follow when treating high blood cholesterol. You probably don’t have the time to read all 85 pages of the guidelines, which is why we’ve reduced the details to the main points you need to know. If you ever do find yourself with free time, you can check out the full report here.

  • The new guidelines focus on treating people with cholesterol lowering medicine – namely statins – that have the best chance of reducing their risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).
  • Instead of focusing on specific LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol levels, the new guidelines aim to reduce this cholesterol by a percentage, instead of aiming for a set number.
  • The guidelines point out four groups of people that would benefit the most from statin treatment:
    • Individuals who already have heart disease
    • People with LDL levels above 190 mg/dL (very high)
    • 40-75 year old diabetics who have LDL levels from 70-189 mg/dL
    • People with LDL levels from 70-189 mg/dL and an estimated 10-year risk* for heart disease equal to or above 7.5%

*Your 10-year risk is determined using this online calculator.   

  • To assess which group you are in, your doctor should review your medical history, test your cholesterol levels, and perform any other appropriate tests needed to make a determination. If you are in one of these groups, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about changing any lifestyle factors that could help reduce your risk for heart disease. Your doctor may also discuss the possibility of statin treatment.
  • Other drugs and supplements have previously been used to attempt to lower cholesterol levels, but the ACC and AHA have not made recommendations for them because there hasn’t been enough evidence to show that they are beneficial. If you are using any drugs to control your cholesterol levels, you should always make sure to consult your doctor about their safety.

Lifestyle is a critical component of maintaining a healthy heart and body. Keep your eyes out for a Nutritioulicious post on how to make your diet heart healthy!

Photo sourced from photopin

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