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New American Heart Association guidelines for lowering cardiac risks

The American Heart Association (AHA) updated Saturday the guidelines to lower everyone's risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, this time is more about "personalized" cholesterol-fighting tactics.

They include the use of CT scans to detect hardened arteries, introducing harder-hitting cholesterol drugs like ezetimibe or the new, expensive class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors and a strong recommendation for people with high clolesterol level to reduce it. Starting cholesterol tracking as early as possible, even using tests for kids between the ages of  9 and 11 is important. "The science has shown that having high cholesterol at any age increases risk significantly," said AHA President Dr. Ivor Benjamin. "That's why it is so important that even at a young age people are following a heart-healthy lifestyle and understand and maintain healthy cholesterol levels," he added. Healthy lifestyle changes would be recommended in kids and teens with high cholesterol. Doctors will be encouraged to talk with patients about "risk-enhancing factors" that can provide a more personalized perspective of their risk.

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Family history, ethnicity, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, chronic inflammatory conditions and premature menopause or preeclampsia are important factors to be known for every person. A person needs a personal treatment plan, the guidelines explained. Drugs like ezetimibe or PCSK9 inhibitors should be considered for people who've already had a heart attack or stroke and have LDL levels 70 or higher despite taking as much statin as they can stand, the guidelines say. „By providing a treatment roadmap for clinicians, we are giving them the tools to help their patients understand and manage their risk and live longer, healthier lives,” said Michael Valentine, M.D., FACC, president of the American College of Cardiology.

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