Last week the nation's top heart organizations released new guidelines on who should get cholesterol lowering drugs -- and a new online calculator.
Now doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital are raising concerns that the calculator overestimates the risk of heart attack or stroke, which could result in patients taking drugs they don't need.
Doctors used to rely on a specific cholesterol levels to determine which patients needed statins. The new guidelines recommend statins for four high risk groups -- including patients with cardiovascular disease, those with a bad cholesterol 190 or higher, patients between 40 and 75 with Type 2 diabetes and patients with a 10 year risk of heart attack or stroke of at least 7.5 percent according to the risk calculator.
Cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula says most of the guidelines are a step in the right direction, but says she will tell patients about the concerns. "We need more information before we make clinical decisions and change our clinical practice," she said.
Experts who wrote the guidelines are defending them. Dr. Neil Stone says any flaws in the formula are small and doctors should not delay putting the new advice into practice.
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