For the first time in a decade, the American Heart Association in conjunction with the American College of Cardiology is issuing new guidelines for the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to target preventing heart attacks and strokes; lifesaving news for some.
Under the new guidelines, recommended use of statins will be expanded to nearly a third of all US adults. The old guidelines recommended at statin if your risk of having a heart attack over the next 10 years was 20 percent. Under a new formula, that risk ratio shrinks to just 7.5 percent.
Among the most dramatic changes, people ages 40-75 with Type 2 diabetes will now be recommended to take a statin drug, regardless of their cholesterol. Other targeted populations include people who already have heart disease (clogged arteries), and those whose LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” is 190 or higher. The new guidelines also look at race and sex.
The news comes at a time of increasing concern and focus on individuals already diagnosed with diabetes; to prevent future disease complication. A 2006 study found that individuals with Type 1 diabetes have a ten-times higher risk for cardiovascular events than age-matched non-diabetic counter-parts. And a growing body of study results, like the Heart Protection Study, say statins can be beneficial in reducing the risk for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and even kidney disease in Type 2 diabetes patients.
The new guidelines also focus on modifying lifestyle recommendations. Here are 5 simple things you can do now to lower your blood pressure on your own. It is important to note however, that some people who have hypertension aren’t able get it under control without medications.
- Go on the DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which can be as effective as medication for some people with mild cases. The diet is low in fat and rich in fruits, grains, vegetables, and lower-fat dairy products. Visit the NIH website to learn more.
- Exercise. The guidelines recommend doing moderate to vigorous workouts for 40 minutes (at least 30 minutes) a day 3-4 times during the week.
- Cut back on salt and sodium, and red meat. Aim for a daily maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium, or 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Drink moderately, if at all. Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink a day (two for men).
- Lose weight. If you are overweight, reduce your body weight by 5 to 7%. Try to lose enough to get your BMI to less than 25. For someone who weighs 200lbs, that’s about 15 pounds. (NOTE:To calculate BMI: multiply your weight in pouds by 703, then divide by your height in inches squared. Also, consult with your doctor in-person to develop in individualized weight loss plan that you can carry out for at least 6 months.)
ABC NEWS contributed to this story.
Orchard TJ, Costacou T, Kretowski A, Nesto RW. Type 1 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Diabetes Care 2006; 29: 2528–38.