The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recently issued new guidelines for the use of high cholesterol-treating statin drugs. The report suggests that everyone over age 40 regardless of whether they have a history of cardiovascular disease should be evaluated and considered for treatment with a statin.
The new statin guidelines were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and suggest that people between age 40 and 75 who have one or more risk factor for cardiovascular disease that put them at a 10% or greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years should be on a statin.
Cardiovascular risk factors include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
The report also states that people with a 7.5 % to 10% risk “may also benefit” however they should discuss the risks and benefits with their treating physician. By comparison, the American Heart Association recommends that people with a 7.5% or greater risk take the drugs.
The task force withheld a recommendation about starting statins in adults who are 76 and older, saying that “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms.”
Not all physicians agree with the current recommendations, which has generated some controversy. Individuals with any of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease should discuss the potential benefits of statin drugs with their treating physician.