The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has updated its guidelines for treatment of blood cholesterol, suggesting that people at risk for heart attack and stroke would benefit from more intensive cholesterol-lowering therapies.
Dr. Scott M. Grundy, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said the new guidelines are based largely on results from five major clinical trials involving cholesterol-lowering medications called statins. These results make possible changes to the 2001 guidelines issued by the NCEP Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III), for which Dr. Grundy served as chairman. The updated recommendations – published today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association – are endorsed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the American Heart Association; and the American College of Cardiology.
NCEP identifies three categories of risk based on a person’s likelihood to develop cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke) in the near future: high risk, moderately high risk, and lower to moderate risk. High-risk individuals are those who have already had a heart attack; cardiac chest pain (angina); previous angioplasty or bypass surgery; obstructed blood vessels to the arms, legs or brain; diabetes; or a collection of other risk factors that raise the likelihood of having a heart attack in the next 10 years by more than 20 percent.
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