Do you need cholesterol medication? Four types of at-risk patients

cholesterol medication
You may need to be on cholesterol medicine according to the new guidelines.
Credit: Getty Images

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines on who should take cholesterol-lowering drugs: Patients are now evaluated more on risks for heart disease than just cholesterol numbers.

Dr. Matthew Ito, president of the National Lipid Association, spoke with Metro about who may need medication under the new guidelines. Ito stressed that the NLA did not participate in writing the new guidelines and does not endorse them. “We did not endorse them because they’re a huge paradigm shift from the previous guidelines,” Ito told Metro. “In the previous guidelines, patients would learn what their cholesterol level was and be evaluated in terms of cardiovascular risk and their LDL cholesterol levels.” He added that people usually received dietary intervention before being put on medication.

Patients that fall into the following categories should pay a visit to the doctor to see if they should be on cholesterol medication:

1. Patients with a history of heart disease: If you’ve had angina, a stroke, bypass surgery or a stent put in, you may want to check with your doctor if you need to be on medication.

2. Individuals with high LDL cholesterol: People with LDL cholesterol greater or equal to 190 mg/dL are at risk.

3. People aged 40 to 75 that have diabetes and LDL cholesterol between 70 and 189 mg/dL should see a doctor.

4. Individuals between 40 and 75 with LDL cholesterol between 70 and 189 but have a calculated risk of heart disease of 7.9 percent or higher are also at risk. You can calculate your risk on the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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