Patients say lack of physician guidance and fear of side effects are why they don’t take statins as prescribed

Despite national guidelines indicating that statins can lower risk of heart attack and stroke, many patients who could benefit do not take them. More than half of eligible patients say they were never offered the cholesterol-lowering drugs; the experience of side effects or fear of side effects were reasons for stopping or refusing statins, according to new research inĀ Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Statins lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) and have been shown to lower the risk of heart attack and strokes. Because statins are proven effective and have a low risk of side effects, guidelines from the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology recommend doctors use an atherosclerotic and cardiovascular disease risk calculator to give a detailed assessment of a person’s 10-year risk for heart disease and to help create a personalized plan.

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Follow-up cholesterol testing reduces risk of reocurrence for heart attack, stroke patients

If you have a heart attack or stroke, it’s important to get your “bad” cholesterol measured by your doctor on a follow up visit. Researchers have found that one step is significantly associated with a reduced risk of suffering another serious cardiovascular episode.

The new research, conducted by researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, found that patients who don’t follow up with their doctor by getting a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol test following a heart attack or stroke are significantly more likely to have a reccurrence.

Researchers found a significant and clinically meaningful difference in major adverse outcomes — including death, a heart attack, a stroke, and a vascular bypass or an angioplasty — based on whether or not a patient has a follow-up measurement of their LDL cholesterol.

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