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New guidelines urge the use of statins for twice as many Americans

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The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology announced the first new guidelines in years for preventing heart attacks and strokes. 

The guidelines issued today call for twice as many Americans to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, shifting the focus away from what doctors say are arbitrary targets.  Statins are a class of medicines that block the action of a chemical in the liver that makes cholesterol.

Studies have shown that statins reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Heart attacks kill 600,000 Americans each year and are the number 1 killer in the U.S. and 130,000 Americans die from stroke (the number 4 killer in the U.S.).  Stroke is also a major cause of disability with 15 to 30 of individuals becoming permanently disabled.

The authors of the guidelines say that the new recommendations were needed because doctors were shooting for LDL targets as if they were hard and fast rules and aiming for improvements that hadn’t been established to be beneficial.  The change is a major departure from the previous guidelines that recommended statins only if their 10-year risk level exceeded 20 percent left out the risk of stroke.

Other guidelines include treating obesity like a disease (complete with treatment options, providing preventive care services, and behavioral counseling) and giving doctors a formula to calculate the risk of heart attack and stroke for African Americans.

Elder law attorney, Rajiv Nagaich, regularly uses a stroke victim as an example about how traditional planning fails individuals.  It isn’t dying that causes problems so much with your estate.  It’s having uncovered medical and long-term costs that can rob an estate of its vitality and place an individual at significant jeopardy of becoming a burden on their loved ones and forcing an unwanted move to an institutional care setting.  If you want to get a feel on how your health situation ties into your legal, housing and financial situation, consider coming to a free seminar on LifePlanning or listen to AgingOptions on KTTH, Saturday mornings from 10 until 12.


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