USA – New drug options, risk factors added to U.S. heart guidelines

Updated U.S. guidelines on heart health advise more personalized assessment of risk as well as two newer types of cholesterol-lowering drugs for people at particularly high risk of heart attack or stroke.

The recommendations from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, last issued in 2013, acknowledge recent research showing the benefit of very low levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, which contributes to fatty plaque buildup and narrowing of arteries.

The medical groups, which announced the guidelines on Saturday at the AHA’s annual meeting in Chicago, still emphasize a healthy diet and exercise as the first line of defense against heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the country.

When cholesterol is not controlled by lifestyle efforts, patients are typically prescribed statin drugs, available as low cost generic pills that have long been proven to safely and effectively lower LDL levels and heart disease risk…