Study Says More People Should Take Statin Drugs

New guidelines by the American Heart Association say more people should be taking cholesterol lowering drugs, even if they don't have high cholesterol.Dr. Sanjay Gupta from KMPH Fox News partner CNN shows why the recommendations have changed.The new recommendations call for a focus on risk factors for high cholesterol and heart disease, rather than just actual cholesterol levels.Doctors have been telling you to know your numbers: blood pressure should be 120 over 80 or less, BMI should be under 25, and your bad cholesterol should be under 100.But new guidelines released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, say that last number isn't so important anymore.They say regardless of what your numbers are, in most cases, you might need to be on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.Dr. Steven Nissen, Cleveland Clinic chair of cardiology said, "The new guidelines greatly expand the number of Americans that would be eligible to receive statin drugs. We would estimate from about 36 million previously to as many as 72 million now."So what are the new guidelines? The first two are simple if you have heart disease; you get a statin regardless of your cholesterol numbers. If you have diabetes, type 1 or type 2; you get a statin, too.The other two are a bit more complex. If you have genetically high cholesterol and your bad cholesterol is over 190, you may get a prescription. And if you're between 40 and 75, and your 10-year-risk of heart disease is over 7.5 %, you'll also get one.And although statins do have some side effects, including muscle pain, weakness and soreness, Dr. Nissen says the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. "The most compelling evidence is that they prevent heart attack, and probably stroke as well The drugs that we use for treating cholesterol are safe. They have adverse affects, but the serious adverse affects are uncommon," he said.Doctors Nissen says the new guidelines are finally catching up to the latest science on just how many lives could be impacted by these medications.