The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have put together a set of new guidelines for treating heart disease. Doctors say they're critical to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Cardiologists used to rely on a specific cholesterol level to determine which patients needed the drugs known as statins. Now new guidelines recommend statins for four high risk groups.
They include patients with heart disease, those with a bad cholesterol 190 or higher, patients between 40 and 75 with type 2 diabetes, and patients between 40 and 75 with a ten year elevated risk of heart disease.
UPMC Altoona's Chief of Cardiology V. Janakiraman believes it will lead to more individualized treatment of heart patients. He says, "we have to be very, very specific with each person whom we treat very aggressively, compared to the other people."
That means some patients with fewer risk factors for heart disease taking less medicine, and others targeted by the guidelines taking more.
As Dr. Janakiraman explains, "somebody's cholesterol is 220, somebody else's is 220, but this guy smokes, he has everybody in his family has a heart attack before 50, and he's also a sedentary person, so then I have to concentrate more on this guy."
The guidelines also emphasize a heart healthy lifestyle, which Dr. Janakiraman agrees with, saying, "what I preach to my patients: I do my part, you do your part, and you cut down a little bit of eating and I give you a little dose of the medicine."
And to that he adds, eat less, walk more.