U.S. doctors call for increased use of cholesterol drugs for heart attacks, strokes

Rob Schwartz, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, joins The Daily Circuit to discuss the new guidelines on the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medicines.

More from the Associated Press:

The nation's first new guidelines in a decade for preventing heart attacks and strokes call for twice as many Americans — one-third of all adults — to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

The guidelines, issued Tuesday by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, are a big change. They offer doctors a new formula for estimating a patient's risk that includes many factors besides a high cholesterol level, the main focus now. The formula includes age, gender, race and factors such as whether someone smokes.

The guidelines for the first time take aim at strokes, not just heart attacks. Partly because of that, they set a lower threshold for using medicines to reduce risk.