Many more Americans may need to take statins
New guidelines from the American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology recommend that statins should be used to treat those most at risk of heart attack or stroke. This would replace the current approach where statin prescriptions are based primarily on a person's cholesterol numbers.
Some people may no longer need to take statins, but the expectation is that the change could significantly increase the number of people who would qualify for the medication. The guidelines urge doctors to intensely treat those who are most at risk for heart attack and stroke, and focus on statins rather than non-statin drugs, because statins are most likely to benefit.
Statins, such as Lipitor, Mevocar, Crestor and Zocor are prescribed to about 15 percent of U.S. adults, and are effective at reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. But, they do come with some side effects, such as memory loss and elevated sugars that can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Under the new guidelines, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults may qualify for statin treatment. This includes people who already have heart disease, people with LDL higher than 190, people with diabetes aged 40 to 75, and others with a high risk of heart disease.