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Ann Intern Med. 2019 Jun 4;170(11):779-783. doi: 10.7326/M19-0365. Epub 2019 May 28.

2018 Cholesterol Clinical Practice Guidelines: Synopsis of the 2018 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology/Multisociety Cholesterol Guideline.

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University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas (S.M.G.).
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois (N.J.S.).



In November 2018, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) released a new clinical practice guideline on cholesterol management. It was accompanied by a risk assessment report on primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).


A panel of experts free of recent and relevant industry-related conflicts was chosen to carry out systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined cardiovascular outcomes. High-quality observational studies were used for estimation of ASCVD risk. An independent panel systematically reviewed RCT evidence about the benefits and risks of adding nonstatin medications to statin therapy compared with receiving statin therapy alone in persons who have or are at high risk for ASCVD.


The guideline endorses a heart-healthy lifestyle beginning in childhood to reduce lifetime risk for ASCVD. It contains several new features compared with the 2013 guideline. For secondary prevention, patients at very high risk may be candidates for adding nonstatin medications (ezetimibe or proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 [PCSK9] inhibitors) to statin therapy. In primary prevention, a clinician-patient risk discussion is still strongly recommended before a decision is made about statin treatment. The AHA/ACC risk calculator first triages patients into 4 risk categories. Those at intermediate risk deserve a focused clinician-patient discussion before initiation of statin therapy. Among intermediate-risk patients, identification of risk-enhancing factors and coronary artery calcium testing can assist in the decision to use a statin. Compared with the 2013 guideline, the new guideline gives more attention to percentage reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol as a treatment goal and to long-term monitoring of therapeutic efficacy. To simplify monitoring, nonfasting lipid measurements are allowed.


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