What's Up With the New Cholesterol Guidelines?

Goodbye, Goals

Perhaps the most striking change to the guidelines is the lack of cholesterol goals (or targets). Previous guidelines focused heavily on establishing LDL goals and on getting people to those goals. However, no scientific evidence was found to support these specific treatment targets.

In fact, attempting to reach the treatment target often meant the need for more medications added on to statin therapy, such as niacin, fibrates, or gemfibrozil. Although people were often reaching their cholesterol goals, the addition of these medications did not reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes, and the benefits of the additional medications simply did not outweigh the risks.
 
So, instead of goals, the guidelines suggest either high-intensity or moderate-intensity statin use, depending on your particular risk factors. The "intensity" will help your doctor choose which statin and which dose to use.
 

What Does This Mean for You?

If you are identified as having high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe one of the medications discussed, as well as talk to you about lifestyle modifications. There is now much less focus on goals. In fact, your doctor may not even talk about goals at all anymore.
 
It is important to remember that these guidelines are produced as a guide for clinicians and not as a replacement for a doctor's judgment and experience. The recent changes allow for a tailored approach rather than the typical "one treatment fits all." Talk to your doctor today about what is right for you.
 
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