A statin pill could prevent stroke

For decades, a statin has been considered proper treatment for high cholesterol. Being on the medication lowers the amount of cholesterol circulating through the body, and, in turn lowers the cardiovascular risk of heart attack.

That was the old thinking. Now, new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association{}greatly expand{}who should be on a statin. In 2002 the federal cholesterol guideline said people should only take a statin if their 10-year risk level for a heart attack exceeded 20 percent.{} The just released guideline expands that to include individuals at risk for stroke. The new guideline now includes an estimated additional 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for heart attack or stroke within the next ten years. Examples of groups who exceed the 7.5 percent risk and would benefit from statin therapy include white women over 60 who smoke and have high blood pressure and African-American men over 50 with high blood pressure.

American Heart Association volunteer Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D. is one of 20 experts on the committee who wrote the new guidelines. Dr. Jones{}told the American Heart Association physicians have been{}under treating people who need statin therapy in this country.

The new guidelines recommend statin therapy for these groups:

  • People without cardiovascular disease who are 40-75 years old and have a 7.5% or higher risk for heart attack or stroke within ten years
  • People with a history of heart attack, stroke, stable or unstable angina, peripheral artery disease, transient ischemic attack, or coronary or other arterial revascularization
  • People 21 and older who have a very high level of bad cholesterol (190mg/dL or higher)
  • People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who are 40 to 75 years old.