Questions raised in US over new anti-cholesterol guidelines

by Jean-Louis Santini

New recommendations to expand the use of cholesterol-lowering medication to millions of adults to reduce heart attacks and strokes overestimated risks faced by that population, according to a new study.

An updated clinical guide released by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) last week set new guidelines on who should take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

The report said some 33 million Americans should be prescribed the medication.

But two researchers from Harvard University's medical school have concluded that the guidelines exaggerate the risks, recommending statins for too many people.

"It is possible that as many as 40-50 percent of the 33 million middle-aged Americans targeted by the new ACC/AHA guidelines for do not actually have risk thresholds" that exceed the threshold suggested for treatment, researchers Paul Ridker and Nancy Cook said in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Now, this kind of medicine is prescribed only to reduce high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, the main cause of arteriosclerosis, to bring it back down to an acceptable level.

Risk factors cited by the ACC include age, presence of diabetes, , high levels of bad cholesterol, smoking and ethnicity. Blacks are particularly vulnerable.

But by applying the calculation formula used by the ACC and AHA to five groups of people, the two Harvard concluded that the formula overestimated observed risks by 75 to 150 percent.

Related Stories

Some doctors challenge new statin guidelines

date Nov 18, 2013

(HealthDay)—A new online cholesterol risk calculator produced by two leading U.S. heart organizations is flawed and overstates a person's risk of heart disease, a pair of Harvard Medical School professors ...

The skinny on fat and cholesterol

date Nov 18, 2013

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration proposed banning transfat—partially hydrogenated oil—from restaurants and grocery shelves because it raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, contributing to heart ...

Recommended for you

Cognitive impairment predicts worse outcome in heart failure

date 9 hours ago

Cognitive impairment predicts worse outcome in elderly heart failure patients, reveals research presented today at Heart Failure 2015 by Hiroshi Saito, a physiotherapist at Kameda Medical Centre in Kamogawa, Japan. Patients ...

1950s drug is future heart treatment

date May 22, 2015

Oxford University researchers have found a promising future treatment for heart disease, going back to a drug first developed in 1950.

Time is muscle in acute heart failure

date May 21, 2015

Urgent diagnosis and treatment in acute heart failure has been emphasised for the first time in joint recommendations published today in European Heart Journal.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.