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Statins should be considered for primary heart disease prevention, experts say

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

For individuals who have received even moderately unhealthy cholesterol test results, statin medications should be considered the primary method of preventing heart disease, according to a new commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University wrote that a 55-year-old man with a 10 percent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years should be treated with statin medications.

This may seem like a drastic step for patients who have relatively low risk of suffering a cardiovascular event, but the researchers said it represents a low-risk approach to prevention. Many doctors wait until a person has experienced a heart attack or stroke, or until one could occur in the near future, to treat patients with statins. The team said early intervention makes more sense.

"As always, lifestyle change is the first-line therapy," the team wrote, "However, if this patient’s cholesterol level remains abnormal, despite sustained attempts at lifestyle optimization, statin therapy should be considered, with the goal of reducing coronary heart disease risk."

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