AlzU Blog

Solving the Cholesterol Puzzle-Part II

Medication for High Cholesterol

According to a recent Harvard Health online publication, the standards have recently changed when it comes to just what number on a lab report indicates a cholesterol problem requiring medication.

What is a Statin?

A statin is a group of drugs that act to reduce levels of fats in the blood, including triglycerides and cholesterol.  Harvard reports that historically statins were given to keep cholesterol levels under 200 mg/dl and LDL under 100 mg/dl.  But in 2013 all new parameters were released by the American Heart Association (AMA) to suggest a major change in prescribing statins for patients with high cholesterol levels.

New Guidelins by The American Heart Association (AMA)

The new guidelines set forthe by the AHA are aimed at treating high cholesterol when a person’s overall cardiovascular risk profile increases, instead of simply using the results of cholesterol levels from lab tests.

According to the Harvard Health Report, below are what the 2013 guidelines suggest:

A daily statin should be given to those who are included in the following classifications:

1.Age 21 or older with a very high level of LDL cholesterol (190 mg/dL or higher)
2.Anyone who has cardiovascular disease, including angina (chest pain with exercise or stress)
3.Anyone who has had a heart attack, stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA or ministorke)
4.Anyone who has peripheral artery disease
5.Anyone who has had bypass surgery or angioplasty to treat blocked arteries due to cholesterol
6.Anyone age 40 to 75 who has diabetes
7.Anyone age 40 to 75 who does not have cardiovascular disease but has over a 7.5% risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next decade (as determined using the online risk calculator).

Risk Calculator

The risk calculator can be accessed online at If you know your blood pressure and have had a recent cholesterol test, you can plug in the numbers and find out for yourself if your risk is more than 7.5%.  The risk calculator also asks whether or not the patient smokes, has been treated for hypertension (high blood pressure) or has diabetes.

According to Harvard, it’s not perfectly clear whether or not doctors are strictly following the 7th guideline set forth by the AHA or not.  Harvard reports that if everyone in category #7 were to be prescribed statins, it would mean that several million more people would be on medication to lower cholesterol levels.

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