Ask the Expert: What do the New Cholesterol Guidelines Mean for Me?
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Ask the Expert: What do the New Cholesterol Guidelines Mean for Me?

by -

Ankur Vyas, MD

Ask the Expert: What do the New Cholesterol Guidelines Mean for Me?

New recommendations from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) allows for more personalized treatment for individuals who are at a high risk for heart disease or have elevated cholesterol.

“Instead of using absolute levels we are basing treatment on a combination of information,” explains Ankur Vyas, MD, UnityPoint Health – Cardiology Clinic. “We look at your cholesterol levels, but we also include other risk factors, such as family history, chronic conditions or if you smoke to name a few. If you fall into a high-risk category, then we are going to be more aggressive in knowing your cholesterol and trying to reduce it by at least 50 percent. To do this we would go straight to a high intensity statin, which is the chief blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications that we use.”

Dr. Vyas stresses individuals should take an interest in their health and work with their healthcare provider to determine when they should have their cholesterol tested for the first time and establish a baseline. From there they can determine how often they should be tested year-to-year. Some individuals with elevated cholesterol levels may be able to lower their heart disease risk with lifestyle modifications.

Diet and Exercise

“Diet and exercise are important for overall health,” shares Dr. Vyas. “Individuals should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three to four times a week, at moderate intensity. Your diet should include vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts and fruits. Limit red meat and anything with high sugar content.”

Cholesterol may also be moderated by incorporating exercise into daily living.

“Regular exercise has been shown to reduce and improve how well people do long-term,” says Dr. Vyas. “The benefits may help reduce cholesterol and improve overall health in many ways. And if you succeed in lowering your cholesterol it also provides benefit to your overall health and reducing the possibility of having future cardiovascular events.”

Overall the guidelines encourage providers to lower cholesterol levels for those high-risk individuals and reinforces the importance of statins. If it’s been a while since you saw your healthcare provider – now might be the perfect time to schedule a visit and take control of your health.

UnityPoint Health wants to be your partner in health. We make it easy for you to schedule an appointment and to find a healthcare provider that’s right for you and start your wellness journey today!