American Heart Association Releases New Cholesterol Guidelines

Experts now recommend expanding the age range for assessment.

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New cholesterol guidelines – offering a more personalized approach to risk assessments – were announced during the American Heart Association’s annual scientific conference.

“High cholesterol treatment is not one size fits all, and these guidelines strongly establishes the importance of personal care,” according to Dr. Michael Valentine, president of the American College of Cardiology. He adds, "By providing a treatment roadmap for clinicians, we are giving them tools to help their patients understand and manage their risk."

The previous guidelines posed numerous issues. Not only did the guidelines omit family history – a crucial piece in the puzzle – they also neglected to factor in LDL cholesterol target levels. According to John Hopkins Medicine, people with LDL levels of 100 or lower are considered healthier. Individuals with levels above 160 fall into the dangerous category.

Experts are now recommending doctors take a different approach when assessing their patients. Their suggestion: look at the bigger picture to address the impact of high cholesterol. Children born to families considered "high risk" can now be tested starting at the age of two, though most children can have their first test at nine. Experts suggest children have a follow-up test once they are in their teens and early twenties. Along with keeping a closer watch on cholesterol levels in children and young adults, the new recommendations also point to consistent care and observation for those over the age of seventy-five. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. As Dr. Ivor Benjamin, president of the American Heart Association states, "Having high cholesterol at any age increases that risk significantly." By staying informed about cholesterol levels and getting regular assessments, patients have a greater chance of lowering their disease risk and living a healthy life.