New Cholesterol Guidelines

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have released new cholesterol guidelines to help address the national epidemic of cardiovascular issues. The changes from their previous guidelines are far-reaching.

Americans have long been focused on their cholesterol numbers alone. Many people are locked into only checking their cholesterol levels and pursuing better numbers. Doctors had previously been told to focus a patient’s total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides. Because of these older guidelines, there are cases where a doctor’s quality of care was judged by the percentage of their patients with low cholesterol levels.

The new guidelines demonstrate an understanding that patients who have tried various lifestyle changes and are still considering drug therapy, will need to question whether taking prescription drugs will not just lower your cholesterol numbers, but also lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Recent research has shown that improving your cholesterol numbers with drugs alone is not the same as lowering your heart risks. Prescription drugs can have a wide range of effects on your body, and their effect on an individual lab test cannot necessarily predict its overall effect on the rest of you.

Your cholesterol numbers are still important. The main goal of the new guidelines is to be sure that changing your cholesterol level with medications should be seen in terms of how the drugs you take may offset any benefit to reducing cholesterol alone.

Still, those with very high levels of the harmful cholesterol known as LDL should still be concerned about their numbers. The new guidelines set the high LDL level at 190 milligrams per deciliter, but for those with very high cholesterol levels, the cardiovascular risk is so high that it is likely immediate treatment to reduce LDL levels would offset any risks of the treatment.

The new guidelines do set criteria for heart attack and stroke risk, although these recommendations are just that, recommendations. Such an important decision about your health depends on how you and your doctor feel about your risk of heart disease and stroke and how you feel about taking statin drugs — and their risks and benefits.

Among the four questions to ask to determine risks: Do you have heart disease? Do you have diabetes? Do you have a bad cholesterol level more than 190? And is your 10-year risk of a heart attack greater than 7.5%? According to the new guidelines, if you answered yes to any of those four questions, you should be on cholesterol medication.

What these guidelines will be doing is getting doctors to put more Americans on statins, perhaps as many as a third of all adults in this country. Statins have a number of known side effects, and have recently been linked to certain cognitive issues, such as forgetfulness and confusion. Many patients have reported these problems for years. In 2011, almost 21 million patients in the United States received prescriptions for statins. In the coming years, that number will explode. Sexual dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet), depression, irritability, headache, and sleep problems have all been reported by many people while taking statins.

If you are currently taking a statin drug, whether it is simvastatin (Zocor and generic), atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol, Lescol XL), lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor and generic), pravastatin (Pravachol and generic), rosuvastatin (Crestor) or simvastatin/ezetimibe (Vytorin) and it is causing you muscle pain or muscle weakness, or you’ve recently experienced these symptoms, you should see your doctor right away.

The new cholesterol guidelines may be the end of the era of chasing number targets to only help your cholesterol levels. The new approach is should help your doctor determine if any medication alone will put you at a lesser long-term risk. These principles should guide your discussions with your doctor. All adults 20 years of age and older should have their cholesterol tested every five years. If your cholesterol level is high or if you have other risk factors for heart disease, you may need to have it checked sooner and more often.

Statins help many people keep healthier cholesterol levels. Many will instead choose more natural solutions.

The good news is that adults can take steps to improve cardiovascular health, including eating a proper diet, exercising, to help control their cholesterol issues.

An excellent cholesterol supplement that includes many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the "bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the "good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!

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