New heart disease prevention guidelines will have doctors recommending cholesterol drugs to more patients.
The new heart disease prevention guidelines, which are the first to be set in 10 years, include a formula for calculating the risk of heart disease for a patient. The new formula will use age, gender, race and other factors to determine a patient’s risk. The new guidelines will also change what doctors work to prevent. Under the old guidelines, doctors worked to prevent heart attacks, but the new guidelines will also have them working to prevent strokes, reports the Associated Press.
These new guidelines will result in twice as many Americans being recommended to use statin drugs, which lower cholesterol and also reduce the risk of heart attacks. The new guidelines will make it so that doctors recommend the use of statin drugs to 44% of men and 22% of women, or one-third of all the adults in the United States. The current guidelines only have about 15% of adults being recommended to take statins, the Associated Press notes.
“It’s going to cause a huge conversation,” Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association, told USA Today. “It may be very controversial — which is fine. Controversy means discussion.”
Patents on several statin drugs such as Lipitor and Zocor, which were previously patented by Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK) respectively, have expired. This has made it so that generic versions of the drugs are now available at much cheaper prices than what they were before, reports the Associated Press.