What's Up With the New Cholesterol Guidelines?

What's New in ATP IV?

The new guidelines emphasize reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, with lifestyle changes being the foundation of this effort. The components of these lifestyle changes include adhering to a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise habits, avoiding tobacco products, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Another component of risk reduction is the use of a class of drugs referred to as statin drugs. Statins have the most evidence for a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes. The drugs in this class include:
 
Specific groups of people were identified as benefitting from statins. The four groups include people:
 
Another change seen in the new guidelines is the use of the "Pooled Cohort Equations" to estimate a person's 10-year risk of heart disease. In the past, the Framingham Risk Calculator was used in this estimation. The new estimator takes into account more risk factors (such as your race) and is meant to provide a more accurate estimate of risk, compared to the old estimator.
 
Even if you don't fall within the four identified groups likely to benefit from a statin, there may be other reasons your healthcare provider recommends a statin. For instance, if you have a strong family history of early heart disease, your doctor might suggest a statin even if you don't fit into one of the four groups.
 
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