The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology has released new guidelines for preventing heart disease and stroke.
Dr. John W. Shuck, Bayhealth cardiologist, helps explain the new guidelines.
What do these guidelines mean? The new guidelines focus on four main areas: obesity, cholesterol, lifestyle, and risk assessment (or how likely you are to experience a stroke or other heart-related problem).
What is new in these guidelines? There is a formula to measure risk in African-American patients, a group who tends to have more heart disease and stroke than the general population.
What has changed? You may remember your health care provider discussing your cholesterol “numbers,” or levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol. Previous guidelines focused on getting the LDL below a certain level. Now, the overall picture is more important than a single number. Your health care provider will help you look at all parts of your lifestyle and decide whether statins could help you.
Are statins safe? Are they expensive? Statins are one of the most-researched medications we have available. Other drugs also lower cholesterol, but statins are the group of drugs we know the most about. Side effects are generally accepted to be very low. Generic versions of statins are very effective and can keep costs low. A 3-month supply of statins can cost you around $10 at local pharmacies. Your health care provider can help you find affordable solutions.
Are there other changes I can make to improve my heart health instead of taking pills? While adding physical activity to your daily routine will make a major change in your heart health, you may need medication to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Statins can help you take the first step towards a healthier cardiovascular system. In conjunction with this, make a point to walk 30 minutes each day.
For more information: 866-BAY-DOCS or visit bayhealth.org.