JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - It's a dramatic shift for doctors all across the country in the way they treat patients with high cholesterol.
The number of Americans prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications is expected to double following the release of new guidelines by the American Heart Association.
Cardiologist Pamela Rama is already telling her patients about the new guidelines, which encourage doctors to consider age, weight, blood pressure and other factors before prescribing them statins like Lipitor.
"They added a new category of patients that need to be treated: those with no coronary artery disease, no diabetes, but have certain risk factors that put him at risk with having a cardiac event in the next 10 years," Rama said.
Under the new guidelines, if a patient smokes, had diabetes or appears to even have a moderate risk of a heart attack or stroke, that person should be prescribed statins, regardless of cholesterol score.
The new guidelines also call for increased dosage of statins for patients already on the medication, like Lorraine Saben.
"I'll just see if I feel any different, because I had symptoms before, and if that's a problem, i'll just mention it to Dr. Rama," Saben said.
Opponents to the new guidelines argue that they haven't been approved by the National Lipid Association, and some in the medical industry want them revised again.
Even though these guidelines are controversial, in the end doctors say the changes will end up saving lives.
"I think identifying patients' cholesterol numbers at a young age will help you lower your risk of getting heart disease at a young age," Rama said.
Doctors say expect the guidelines to continue to change.
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