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New cholesterol guidelines and what it means to patients

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I recently saw my first patient who had been told by her primary care physician that the cholesterol medicine she had been on for many years is not necessary anymore because she does not meet the latest criteria. In other words, following the numbers for high cholesterol good or bad does not apply anymore. Based on new research published in November 2013, in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a study of recommendations between the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association issued new guidelines to measure your risk of a heart attack or stroke over ten years. Briefly, these new guidelines look at risk of a heart attack or stroke over a ten year period rather than a blood level measure of LDL cholesterol. The researchers recognized that obesity, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome are more prevalent in our population today than when the original guidelines on cholesterol were developed and so it is important to identify a more concentrated risk group and treat them with a higher dosage of statins to cover their higher risk of stroke and heart disease. For more information watch the video attached to this article it will explain more about it.

My patient called me and knew she needed to make changes to her diet but was not sure how and if could I help. Of course, I replied and asked her to bring me a 24 Hour recall of the food she ate and we made an appointment to talk. We had a very good conversation and I learned that her BMI was in normal range so our conversation moved on to tweaking a few things here and there and, of course, always more daily exercise. I believe exercise and strength training will prove one day to save us all.

But getting back to those guidelines, as a collective, the medical community did such a great job of demonizing food, particularly eggs and cholesterol, that it may not be so easy to convince patients that it is okay to eat eggs again. A recent letter to the editor in my local paper responding to a physician writing about how eating eggs is healthy, had a reader blast eggs as the scourge of all food kind, and it is simply not true. Call your doctor and find out if the new guidelines for cholesterol apply to you. You might need a stronger medicine or maybe, like my patient, you might be able to eat eggs again but in any case go out for a walk after you make that call.



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