According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, all people over 40 should be taking statins if they have at least one risk factor which might lead to cardiovascular disease.
Also, statins should be taken by people with more than 10 percent risk for stroke or heart attack based by the risk calculator developed by the American College of Cardiology in partnership with the American Heart Association, available at cvriskcalculator.com
People with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease are those with high cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure, those with diabetes and the smokers. These are the factors that the stroke risk calculator combines with sex and ethnicity to calculate the risk of stroke in the next ten years.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases killed about 787,000 Americans in 2011.
Cardiovascular problems which lead to heart attacks and strokes are determined by an increased level of cholesterol, a type of fat produced by our liver and found in our blood which can accumulate in arteries triggering the disease. Statins can block the production of cholesterol in the liver.
The recommendation of using statins as prevention comes after 18 control trials proved a decrease with 17 percent of the death risk from any cause and 36 percent less risk of dying from cardiovascular disease for those using statins.
The studies have also revealed that statins decreased the strokes rates by 28 percent and those of heart attacks by 37 percent. Also, people taking the drugs were 31 percent less likely to suffer from other cardiovascular problems.
The scientists have also measured the rate of occurrence of side effects associated to the use of statins and they found that serious conditions such as liver problems or diabetes haven’t increased significantly for those taking the medicine.
As a result, researchers argue that the benefits outweigh the possible harm. Taking statins as a preventive measure could bring tremendous benefits for millions of people with high risk of cardiovascular disease.
This recommendation comes after the USPSTF has recently issued another controversial recommendation for all children as young as 9 to be tested for high cholesterol levels. Children at higher risk of heart disease, like those who have a family history, should be tested even earlier.
Doctors argue that finding a possible heart condition at an early age can make a huge difference for the life of the future adult. However, both recommendations can be commented upon until January 25 on the website of USPSTF.
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