I have again asked our vice president for senior services, Steve Steiber, Ph.D. to share a guest posting about the recent news on prescribing for patients with high cholesterol. He has nearly two decades experience in pharmaceutical and medical device consulting prior to joining CCM about 8 years ago. He reports:
This week the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines on what patients should be prescribed medication to lower their cholesterol. If followed, these guidelines could double the number of patients receiving prescriptions for the most common medications called statins. You may be familiar with the drugs with names like Crestor, Tricor, Lipitor or Zetia.
The reason more people may receive prescriptions is that while the guidelines do not change the target “bad cholesterol” (LDL) level, it looks to other risk factors. The old rules just looked at the level of “bad cholesterol” in a patient’s blood. The new guidelines look at other classic risk factors, such as:
- patients with type 2 diabetes between ages 40 and 75 and who have LDL levels at or above 190;
- patients with a cardiovascular risk 7.5 percent or higher between ages 40 and 75 and who have LDL levels at or above 190.
It really comes down to the risk factors first and the cholesterol level second when a prescribing decision is made. It used to be just by the numbers – the LDL
numbers – regardless of cardiovascular risk or diabetic condition. So people with elevated LDL, but minimal risk factors may not receive a prescription. The new rules translate into about 33 million adult Americans receiving prescriptions for statins-caregivers and their older loved ones. About 44 percent of adult men would qualify, but only about 22 percent of women would be prescribed a statin. Under the old guidelines, only about half as many adults would have received a prescription.
Please let Steve know if you have any questions about drugs, their side effects or the unique medical challenges faced by older adults or others with special needs. Please email to: Steve Steiber.