For some people, lifestyle changes, like a better diet and more exercise, may prevent or treat unhealthy cholesterol levels. For others with high cholesterol, medication may also be needed.
Statins are recommended for most patients. Statins are the only cholesterol-lowering drug class that has been directly associated with a reduction in the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Guidelines recommend that people in any of these four groups talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of statin therapy:
- Adults 40-75 years of age with LDL (bad) cholesterol of 70-189 mg/dL and a 7.5 percent or higher risk for having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years
- People with a history of a cardiovascular event (heart attack, stroke, stable or unstable angina, peripheral artery disease, transient ischemic attack, or coronary or other arterial revascularization)
- People 21 and older who have a very high level of LDL (bad) cholesterol (190 mg/dL or higher)
- People with diabetes and a LDL (bad) cholesterol level of 70-189 mg/dL who are 40 to 75 years old
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Source: American Heart Association