New guidelines for treating high cholesterol take a personal approach

Physicians should consider a patient's family history of cardiovascular disease and in some cases a heart scan before prescribing drugs to lower cholesterol, according to new clinical guidelines released Saturday at the American Heart Association's annual scientific conference.

Physicians should consider a patient's family history of cardiovascular disease and in some cases a heart scan before prescribing drugs to lower cholesterol, according to new clinical guidelines released Saturday at the American Heart Association's annual scientific conference. The guidelines also recommend prescribing two new types of drugs for high-risk patients when statins do not work. However, due to the cost, PCSK9 inhibitors, should be prescribed only when a generic medication does not work, the guidelines said. The new guidelines urge physicians to take into account heart disease in the family, whether a patient has diabetes, whether he or she is of an ethnicity considered to be at higher risk, and other factors, on top of more traditional measures such as the results of a cholesterol test. "Risk is more of a process than a calculation," said Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University and a member of the panel that wrote the guidelines. "We can help personalize the decision."