Questions raised in US over new anti-cholesterol guidelines

November 20, 2013 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.

Explore further: ACC/AHA publish new guideline for management of blood cholesterol

Related Stories

ACC/AHA publish new guideline for management of blood cholesterol

November 12, 2013

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association today released a new clinical practice guideline for the treatment of blood cholesterol in people at high risk for cardiovascular diseases caused by atherosclerosis, ...

The skinny on fat and cholesterol

November 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 ...

Some doctors challenge new statin guidelines

November 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 say.

Recommended for you

Heart attack treatment hypothesis 'busted'

July 6, 2015

Researchers have long had reason to hope that blocking the flow of calcium into the mitochondria of heart and brain cells could be one way to prevent damage caused by heart attacks and strokes. But in a study of mice engineered ...

0 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.