Updated Cholesterol Guidelines


A more personalized approach along with additional treatment options are among the key takeaways from updated cholesterol guidelines from the American Heart Association.

The association says a lifetime approach to lowering cholesterol is still essential to reducing cardiovascular risk.

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital stroke program coordinator Jeannie Pittenger says in order for physicians to help patients they need to have an honest conversation.

Pittenger explained, “I think it’s really the discussion and the individualizing it. Looking at not only how old they are but what their ethnic background is and not just lump summing everyone into the same categories.”

The AHA does say high cholesterol treatment is not one size fits all and the updated guidelines establish the importance of personalize care.

“It’s diet first of all. Do they know if they have high cholesterol or no? Do they smoke? Are they managing their blood pressure? Are they managing their diabetes? Those are the very main things they need to take a look at,” said Pittenger.

The association says having high cholesterol at any age increases risk for cardiovascular disease so it’s important that people follow a heart healthy lifestyle, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, even at a young age.

“It can change the direction of your healthcare for those younger people,” explained Pittenger. “Can they just do lifestyle changes instead of being started on medications? What can they do while they’re on that medication to make that medication more effective?”

While kids may not need medication the AHA says getting them started on healthy behaviors when they’re young can make a difference in their lifetime.

Pittenger added, “If you’re someone who has kids teaching your kids the correct way to take care of yourself so exercising, eating the correct diet because we’re teaching our kids that so we need to set the example, so they can make those healthy choices down the line.”

The last time an update on the guidelines was released was in 2013.

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