SHREVEPORT, La. -
The guidelines for heart health and cholesterol levels have changed.
This has left thousands of people with the suggestion that they need to be on statin drugs to control their cholesterol.
New guidelines out at the end of 2013 show that obesity should be treated like a disease.
As Dr. Jonathan Davis with CHRISTUS Health
said more Americans should use cholesterol lowering drugs to prevent heart disease than we once thought.
"By using this risk calculator, we are identifying a larger group of patients at risk whose risk can be reduced by using a cardiovascular drug," said Davis.
It's important to keep your cholesterol numbers within a certain range. that's why doctors recommend knowing your numbers.
Get them tested by your doctor. This should start by the age of 21.
"So according to the American Heart Association's recommendation for total cholesterol less than 200 is considered to be ideal for cardiovascular health," said Dr. Brajesh Patel with LSUHSC
Keep your total cholesterol number below 200, because higher numbers can increase the chances of heart disease.
"It's important because it's modifiable. So by having routine blood tests it helps you assess your risk and ultimately it's something that can be reversed," said Davis.
But cholesterol is not the only factor for heart disease.
For the first time in more than a decade, the AHA has come out with new guidelines.
"This is a major revision after a long time. Previous guidelines emphasized that physicians should focus on the specific goal of cholesterol. However, new guidelines recommend that physicians should find a subgroups of patients that are at high risk of getting a heart attack or a stroke," said Patel.
Along with this comes a new risk calculator for heart attack and stroke over a ten-year period.
This calculator takes into account patients with diabetes, anyone with a history of heart disease or people with high cholesterol.
"These groups are considered to be high risk and they should be treated with statin high-intensity drug therapy," said Patel.
Patel said Lipitor or Crestor, the most commonly known statins, are recommended for patients who fall into these categories.
Davis reminds his patients that there's a lot they can do at home to combat high cholesterol and heart disease.
"Thirty minutes of exercise five days a week halves your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke," said Davis.
Watching the amount of fatty foods you eat is important, too, though diet and exercise may not be enough for people with a family history of high cholesterol.
The AHA said the new guidelines for the heart risk calculator come from rigorous and comprehensive reviews of evidence.