A remarkable and frightening new set of guidelines were recently released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. They have decided to expand the "treatment" of cholesterol by including an additional 13 million people who should be recommended statin "therapy".
Looking closely at the guidelines it appears that nearly 90% of men ages 60-75 years old will now be recommended to be prescribed statins. Women in this age group who qualify for statins under the new guidelines are over 50%. Eligibility will now be determined on a "10 year risk for cardiovascular disease" as opposed to being based on LDL/HDL levels.
Despite a lack of randomized controlled trials and grade 1 evidence these new guidelines have been adopted by the powerful organizations mentioned above. As these guidelines are adopted by Medicare, primary care physicians will undoubtedly be pressured into prescribing these medications. By not following the guidelines they may be placing themselves as risk for penalties. There is no doubt that these guidelines were heavily supported by the controlling pharmaceutical companies in the US.
The side effects of statin use are well documented. It is imperative that our patients, neighbors, and friends are well informed regarding cholesterol levels and the various treatment options available to them.
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