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Friday, January 24, 2014


New guidelines that could lead to higher statin use among US adults were discussed on all three of last night’s national news broadcasts, where they received a total of eight minutes of coverage. The guidelines also garnered extensive coverage in print, with stories featured on the front pages of at least four major US papers, and online. Many sources portray the guidelines as a major shift in the treatment of high cholesterol. Some of the sources also characterize the guidelines as controversial.
NBC Nightly News reported that “the first new guidelines in a decade about how” statins “should be prescribed” have been released, and they “could result in many more Americans taking these” medications.
On ABC World News, ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser said that the “new guidelines...dramatically expand” the use of statins “to one third of adults.”
The CBS Evening News called the new guidelines “controversial,” and reported that they “put less emphasis on cholesterol numbers and more on other risk factors in determining who should take medication.”
In a second segment on NBC Nightly News, Dr. Tanya Benninson, Chief Medical Officer at NBC Universal, discussed the guidelines.
In a front-page story, the New York Times (11/13, A1, Kolata, Subscription Publication, 9.61M) reports, “The new guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology and based on a four-year review of the evidence, simplify the current complex, five-step process for evaluating who needs to take” the drugs. The Times also points out that “in a significant departure, the new method also counts strokes as well as heart attacks in its risk calculations, a step that will probably make some additional people candidates for the” medications.
USA Today (11/13, Szabo, 5.82M) reports, “The guidelines identify four high-risk groups who could benefit from statins: people with pre-existing heart disease, such as those who have had a heart attack; people ages 40 to 75 who have diabetes; patients ages 40 to 75 with at least a 7.5% risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the next decade, according to a formula described in the guidelines; and patients with the sort of super-high cholesterol that sometimes runs in families, as evidenced by an LDL of 190 milligrams per deciliter or higher.”
The Washington Post (11/13, A1, Dennis, Bernstein, 4.28M) reports on its front page that Kim Williams, vice president of the American College of Cardiology said, “Lower [LDL] is better, and no one’s arguing that, but once you have a reason to treat someone, they should be treated fully.” Williams added, “That’s really one of the bottom lines of this.”
In a nearly 1,200-word article on its front page, the Los Angeles Times (11/13, Healy, 3.07M) reports that the new “guidelines will align physician practices with a welter of new research showing what works – and what doesn’t – in preventing heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Steven Nissen, an influential Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who was not involved in drafting the new” guidelines.
Bloomberg News (11/13, Cortez, 1.91M) reports that the aim “is to identify people most likely to benefit from treatment and stop trying to hit arbitrary targets that haven’t been proven to improve health, said Neil Stone...chairman of the panel that wrote the cholesterol guidelines.” However, it could “be difficult for some doctors and patients to adjust.”
In fact, the Wall Street Journal (11/13, A2, Winslow, Subscription Publication, 5.91M) points out that both those in favor of and against the new guidelines are concerned that they will lead to confusion among physicians and patients.
Additionally, the Boston Globe (11/13, A1, Kotz, 1.75M) reports on its front page that some physicians are concerned that nearly “one-third of American adults could now qualify for lifelong statin use, even if they do not have high cholesterol levels or any signs of heart disease.”
The AP (11/13, Marchione) points out that the “National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute appointed expert panels to write the new guidelines in 2008, but in June said it would leave drafting them to the” AHA and ACC. In addition to the statin guidelines, “new guidelines on lifestyle and obesity” were released yesterday, “and ones on blood pressure are coming soon.”
The New York Daily News (11/13, Miller, 3.94M) points out that “the new guidelines were published online” yesterday “and will appear in upcoming issues of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the AHA journal Circulation.”
The Los Angeles Times (11/13, Healy, 3.07M) “Science Now” blog reports that this “new game plan for statins represents a stark shift from approaches embraced by cardiologists and primary care physicians for most of the past decade.”
Similarly, CNN (11/13, Sloane, 14.53M) reports on its website that the new guidelines are “being called a tectonic shift in the way doctors will treat high cholesterol.”
CardioSource (11/13, 2K) reports on all of the new prevention guidelines. According to CardioSource, “Each provides important updated guidance for primary care providers, nurses, pharmacists and specialty medicine providers on how best to manage care of individuals at risk for cardiovascular-related diseases based on the latest scientific evidence.” Medscape (11/13, Wood, 164K) and MedPage Today (11/13, Neale, 122K) also report on all of the newly released CVD guidelines. Also covering the story are Reuters (11/13, Berkrot), the CBS News (11/13, Jaslow, 3.87M) website, the NPR (11/13, Knox, 465K) “Shots” blog, AFP (11/13), The Oregonian (11/13, Muldoon, 751K), the Time (11/13, Park, 13.4M) website, Forbes (11/13, Herper, 6.03M), HealthDay (11/13, 5K), Medscape (11/13, O'Riordan, 164K), and the Baltimore Sun (11/13, Cohn, 812K) “Picture of Health” blog. To view the full JACC article

POSTED BY: Steven Almany M.D.

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