Cholesterol Advice Startles Some Doctors (The New York Times)



New guidelines for preventing heart disease and stroke “represent a remarkable and sudden departure from decades of advice on preventing cardiovascular disease,” writes The New York Times.

The guidelines, released on Tuesday by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, advise doctors not to put patients on cholesterol-lowering medications—such as statins—based on cholesterol levels alone, and say patients do not need their levels monitored if they do take medication, the Times notes. In addition, the guidelines do not set target levels for LDL, considered the “bad cholesterol,” the newspaper reports.

Though many doctors have reported themselves surprised by the new guidelines, some, such as Dartmouth’s Steven Woloshin, say focusing on LDL levels has made people lose sight of the overall goal of reducing heart disease, the Times reports.

“If you ask patients, ‘Why do you take a statin?’ They say, ‘to lower my cholesterol level,’ not ‘to lower my cardiovascular risk,’ ” Woloshin, professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine and co-director of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice’s (TDI) Center for Medicine and the Media, tells the newspaper.

The Times also turned for comment to the Geisel School’s Lisa Schwartz, co-director of TDI’s Center for Medicine and the Media. In the past, LDL levels were a matter of intense focus, Schwartz says, which “drove a huge amount of testing and focusing around the LDL number. Many doctors thought it was crazy. We were prescribing higher doses of drugs for older patients, which was probably dangerous.”

Read the full story, published 11/13/13 by The New York Times.

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