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It’s Personal: New Guidelines Recommend Customizing Cholesterol Treatment Plans

Do you know your cholesterol levels? This important piece of information can offer a window into your heart health. High cholesterol often has no symptoms. Left untreated, it can cause fatty deposits that build up inside your arteries, which may lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other complications. Keeping an eye on your numbers is crucial for taking key steps, if needed, to lower your cholesterol level and protect your ticker.

Updates for Cholesterol Control

Recently, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new cholesterol management guidelines. One of the most significant changes from the previous guideline, published in 2013, is that health care providers are now encouraged to take a more personalized approach when treating patients. For example, when determining the best treatment plan, the guideline recommends providers consider many different factors including a patient’s age, heart disease risk, LDL (bad) cholesterol level, health (such as whether the patient has type 2 diabetes), and more. Then, based on that information, the guideline offers a roadmap for treating patients with lifestyle changes and cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins, to help lower a patient’s risk.

Another important update to the guidelines is the recommendation of prescribing other cholesterol-lowering drugs, in addition to statins, for some patients. For example, people who’ve had a heart attack or stroke and are at high risk of having another may benefit from taking other drugs if their cholesterol levels aren’t sufficiently lowered with statins. Additional medicines such as ezetimibe and PCK9 inhibitors can help bring cholesterol levels within a healthier range for these people.

Team Up with Your Doctor

Most importantly, the guideline urges health care providers and patients to work together for treatments to be most effective. If you have high cholesterol, are at risk for heart disease, or aren’t sure what your numbers may be, talk with your doctor. Together, you can decide when you should be tested and how best to improve your heart health and overall well-being.

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