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New Guidelines Deemed Better for Identifying Statin Candidates

New guidelines would have 13 million more Americans taking the cholesterol drugs, experts say

WEDNESDAY, July 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Updated guidelines for cholesterol management were released in 2013 by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Now, a new report indicates they are more accurate and efficient than earlier guidelines in identifying adults at high risk for cardiovascular events who could benefit from statins. The findings are published in the July 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The 2013 guidelines replace a former advisory to clinicians published in 2004. The researchers compared the two sets of guidelines by analyzing how they might predict the risk of cardiovascular events among men aged 35 and older, and among women aged 40 and older — none of whom had any known cardiovascular disease in 2002 to 2005, but whose health was tracked up until 2013. All of the patients were assigned to repeated computed tomography scans that looked for evidence of increased coronary artery calcification.

The team found that the ACC/AHA guidelines were associated with greater accuracy and efficiency in identifying increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease and subclinical coronary artery disease, as compared to the National Cholesterol Education Program’s 2004 Updated Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults guidelines. The effect was deemed strongest for intermediate-risk participants.

“Extrapolating our results to the approximately 10 million U.S. adults who would be newly eligible for statin therapy under the new guidelines, we estimate that between 41,000 and 63,000 cardiovascular events — heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from cardiovascular disease — would be prevented over a 10-year period,” lead researcher Udo Hoffman, M.D., M.P.H., a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in a hospital news release.

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