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The goal in treating cholesterol is to lower your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke. The goal is not to lower your cholesterol numbers alone.
The following guidelines are from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.footnote 1
The two types of treatment are:
The way you choose to lower your risk will depend on how high your risk for heart attack and stroke is. It will also depend on how you feel about taking medicines. Your doctor can help you know your risk. Your doctor can help you balance the benefits and risks of your treatment options.
Lifestyle changes are always important, even if you take medicines to lower your risk.
Your doctor may suggest that you make one or more of the following changes:
You and your doctor can work together to understand your risks and what treatment is best for you. Your doctor may recommend that you take statins if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Your doctor is likely to strongly recommend statins if you:
Your doctor is likely to recommend statins if:
For some people, it's not as clear if they need to take a statin. You and your doctor will need to look at your overall health and any other risks you have for heart attack and stroke.
You and your doctor may think about these things in deciding about medicine:
Other medicines can improve cholesterol levels, but they have not been proven to lower the risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Your doctor may recommend these medicines if there is a reason you can't take a statin. These medicines include bile acid sequestrants, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, fibric acid derivatives, and nicotinic acid (niacin).
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
CitationsStone NJ, et al. (2013). 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, published online November 12, 2013. DOI: 10.1161/01.cir.0000437738.63853.7a. Accessed November 18, 2013.Other Works ConsultedFleg JL, et al. (2013). Secondary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in older adults: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, published online October 28, 2013. DOI: 10.1161/01.cir.0000436752.99896.22. Accessed November 22, 2013.Goff DC Jr, et al. (2013). 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the assessment of cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, published online November 12, 2013. DOI: 10.1161/01.cir.0000437741.48606.98. Accessed November 22, 2013.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofOctober 5, 2017
Current as of: October 5, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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