Because apparently Americans aren’t taking enough pharmaceuticals, new cardiovascular prevention guidelines by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology feature a sharp increase in access to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Under the new rules, an estimated 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease could be prescribed statins, provided their 10-year risk of heart attack or stroke is 7.5% or greater. The previous cut-off, from 2002 guidelines, was 20% or greater.
The decision has raised controversy. On one hand, statins are considered a relatively safe drug. A comprehensive analysis out of Harvard showed that, with the exception of a 9% increase in the chance of diabetes, statins had no other statistically significant side effects.
On the other hand, there’s another recommendation in the new guidelines that’s far more effective, yet will most likely be far more overlooked: healthy eating and regular workouts.
Alice Park, the writer of this Time Magazine article on the guidelines, observes why this oversight may be the case, “The recommendations don’t replace diet and exercise, still the best ways to avoid heart disease. It’s just that they aren’t as easy for patients as popping a pill.”