Some People with Normal Cholesterol May Benefit from Statin Drugs
Ask your physician if you meet the criteria for taking a statin.
For many people, taking a daily statin to lower their cholesterol levels is a way of life. Now, guideline from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) suggests that doctors base their decision less on cholesterol numbers, as they've done in the past, and focus more on their patients' overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Another reason for the uptick in potential statin users is that age now plays a dominant role in assessing risk.
The new guideline considers you at high risk and most likely to benefit from statin therapy if:
- You've already had some form of CVD, such as a heart attack, angina or a stroke.
- You're 40 to 75 years old and have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes significantly increases the risk of coronary heart disease.
- You have very high levels of LDL cholesterol (190 mg/dL or above).
- You're 40 to 75 years old without CVD or diabetes and are found to be at risk, based on a new risk calculator.
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the new guideline could raise the number of people in the United States eligible for statins from 43 million to 56 million. If you fall into a high-risk group, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of being on this type of medication.
From our sister publication Diabetes Focus Winter 2014