The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology--two of the leading cardiovascular associations in the country-- have released new guidelines on heart disease prevention. The new recommendations drastically increase the number of people that could be put on statins to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
According to the New York Times, a quarter of Americans over the age of 40 are currently prescribed statin medicines, making them one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country.
In the past, statins are most often prescribed based on someone’s cholesterol levels, but the new guidelines decouple that equation. Many doctors support the new guidelines, but some are worry that they might lead to over-prescription of statins and exposing more people to the side effects, while others challenge the new recommendations’ de-emphasis on someone’s cholesterol levels.
Dr. Nathan Wong, professor and director of the Heart Disease Prevention Program at UC Irvine and immediate past president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology. He was not involved with the development of the guidelines.