Statins and other cholesterol medications work best when partnered with healthy lifestyle choices
Concerned about your cholesterol levels? It’s important not to rely on a medication-only approach. Your daily physical activity and diet choices play an important role in reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke. With the holidays coming, why not start implementing some new goals for cardiac health in 2019 – and beyond?
The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on cholesterol management released updates on clinical practice guidelines for the reduction of heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease). The guidelines remind us that heart-healthy lifestyles including regular exercise, maintenance of healthy weight, balanced diet and smoking cessation remain the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease risk reduction. All cholesterol-reducing medications work best when used in concert with a healthy lifestyle.
“The guidelines affirmed the pivotal role of a class of drugs known as statins in risk reduction for patients with existing cardiovascular disease and those at high risk for heart attack and stroke,” explains Hennepin Healthcare cardiologist Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew.
In those where cholesterol-reduction goals are not met with healthy lifestyle and statins, a medication that reduces cholesterol absorption in the gut called ezetimibe is offered as an additional therapy followed by the option of a newer class of injectable cholesterol-lowering medications known as PCSK9 inhibitors.
“Due to the high cost and unknown long-term safety of PCSK9 inhibitors, the guidelines, for now, recommend cautious and selective application of these injectable medications,” says Dr. Ayenew.
“It’s never too soon to think about heart health,” he asserts, emphasizing the recommendation that cardiovascular risk assessment and measurement of cholesterol starts in young adulthood at 20 years of age. “Now is the time to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle – before the onset of significant cardiovascular disease.”
Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew practices in Hennepin Healthcare’s Cardiology Clinic located in downtown Minneapolis, as well as the Brooklyn Park Clinic. In addition to outstanding providers who respond to the needs of each patient, the Cardiology Clinic offers outpatient consultation and follow-up in convenient locations. Specialized care and follow-up is available in the clinic for problems including congestive heart failure, arrhythmia management, preventative cardiology, cardiovascular care in patients with chronic renal failure, and peripheral arterial disease management.