New Guidelines Mean More Access to Cholesterol-Lowering Drug

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COLUMBIA - If you're not taking medicine to lower your cholesterol, new guidelines suggest you soon may be. On Tuesday, the American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines for treating high cholesterol.

New guidelines would double the number of Americans on the cholesterol-lowering drug, statin.

Since 2002, there has only been one guideline to follow. The goal was always to get the 'bad' cholesterol, or LDL levels, below 100. Now, the focus has moved from numbers to risk factors.

The senior communications director of the AHA in Springfield said the new guidelines were presented to treat a problem that can be fixed easily.

"Eighty percent of heart disease and stroke can be prevented," Stephen Hall said.  

The AHA recommends you ask yourself these four questions: Do you have heart disease? Do you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes? Do you have a cholesterol level greater than 190? Lastly, do you have a risk of heart attack greater than 7.5 percent?

Essentially, if you can answer 'yes' to any of the four questions, you should be on statin.

Hall said one of the new guidelines discusses the problem of obesity in America.

"We want to treat obesity as a disease, rather than looking at it as a general problem. We want to treat is as a medical condition," Hall said.

The AHA gives guidelines for overall heart health. Hall said one suggestion is maintaining a relationship with your physician.

"When you have a relationship with them and you're able to talk with them about your family history, you learn about your own personal risk factors, and they can learn how to treat you," he said.   

A personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Columbia said maintaining a heart-healthy diet is more effective than taking medicine.

"I always tell my clients to eat a diet rich with fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. It is important to limit the intake of trans fats and sodium, too," Jen Talaski said. "You have to really read the ingredients in the foods you're buying. You can't just look at food labels."

Talaski recommends performing 150 minutes of cardio each week to keep the heart healthy and cholesterol levels low.