Cholesterol Guidelines May Lower Even More In The U.S. - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Health Watch - 7/29/04

Cholesterol Guidelines May Lower Even More In The U.S.

Just about everyone agrees that by lowering your cholesterol, you lower your risk of a heart attack. This summer, you can expect new government guidelines urging another stab at lowering you cholesterol.

Current guidelines suggest a total cholesterol of no more than 200 and an LDL or bad cholesterol level of 100. The new expected changes could bring the total down to 150 and an LDL to the 60 to 80 range.

Dr. Robert Vogel, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland, says this change would have an impact on the incredibly popular class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

"We would see a change in the number of people taking statins going from about 37 million or 40 million up to about 100 million -- a staggering, staggering increase."

New studies show the statin drugs may also offer other benefits like preventing Alzheimer's, Osteoporosis and glaucoma. The drugs side effects, like nerve damage, are rare.

There is a push to move the drugs over the counter, which has already happened in the United Kingdom with the popular statin, Zocor. Health insurance companies, not consumers, will continue to pick up most of the tab for now. However, after these new guidelines come out, many more people could clamor for a prescription.

"We know how to prevent 90% of heart disease but it can't be at the current levels of recommended cholesterol."

However, diet and exercise remain the first prescription for lower cholesterol and healthy living.

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