New Guidelines: Statins for Prevention
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued new guidelines for the use of statin drugs—a class of medications commonly used to treat a number of heart problems. The new recommendations focus on statins to help prevent heart disease—the leading cause of death in the United States—in adults.
Statins help prevent atherosclerosis caused by high cholesterol. Atherosclerosis can cause chest pain, heart attack, and stroke. According to the new recommendations, low- to moderate-dose statins should be offered to adults between the ages of 40 and 75 with no history of heart disease but one or more risk factors for the condition—high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, diabetes, or smoking, for example. These patients are considered to have a 10 percent or higher risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years.
The recommendations also include offering low- to moderate-dose statins to select patients between the ages of 40 and 75 with a slightly lower risk—7.5 to 10 percent—of developing heart disease over the next 10 years. They do not include guidelines for statin use in patients over the age of 75.
Image Credit: Thinkstock