Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is an attending cardiologist and the director of Women's Heart Health of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and has been featured on The Early Show, The Doctors, Good Morning America, 20/20 and other programs. She recently released her book "Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum's Heart Book: Every Woman's Guide to a Heart Healthy Life," (Avery, 2014) and is the host of Focus on Health, a weekly magazine news show spotlighting health topics, seen on WLNY-TV. Steinbaum contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
The controversy surrounding November 2013's release of cholesterol guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA)-American College of Cardiology (ACC) continues, and the confusion amongst physicians and patients is widespread.
The release of related editorials today in The Annals of Internal Medicine lead us to understand how unsettling those guidelines have been, as physicians try to navigate a whole new set of rules, which discount some previous recommendations. As more patients become candidates for statins, the guidelines seem to leave out the shared decision-making that should take place between doctors and patients. As is often the case, many patients do not always fit into the general profiles the guidelines intended. The end result is the individual patient getting lost.
The guidelines set forth, without clear goals of treatment, have restructured when and how statins should be prescribed, whether at a moderate or high dose, depending on the new risk calculations. The new risk analysis has been shown to overestimate the risk of coronary artery disease over a 10-year period by as much as 70 percent to 150 percent. That being said, the guidelines continue to leave out the unique risks to women that have been ignored in the past. With all of this confusion, it's clear that patients must become both proactive consumers as well as educated and empowered health advocates.
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