ACC/AHA Update Guidance for Preventing Heart Disease, Stroke

ACC  AHA Update Guidance for Preventing Heart Disease Stroke

ACC AHA Update Guidance for Preventing Heart Disease Stroke

The change follows newer studies that flagged a bleeding risk for aspirin, including gastrointestinal bleeding.

The guidelines stress that statins - along with lifestyle changes such as a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, weight loss and avoiding smoking or vaping tobacco - should be used to prevent heart disease in anyone with LDL levels of more than 190 milligrams per deciliter.

First-line medication should include metformin, the guidelines say.

The AHA and ACC stressed that daily aspirin does have an important role to play for people at high risk - those with a prior history of heart attack, stroke or cardiac procedures such as stenting or open heart surgery. Aspirin became increasingly used for the objective of preventing a first heart attack after studies in the 1980s and 1990s showed a benefit. In fact, a 2017 research by Swedish scientists found that those who suddenly stopped taking aspiring had become 37 percent more at risk for stroke and heart attack.

The authors of the new guidelines said low-dose aspirin should not be routinely given as a preventive measure to adults 70 years and older or to any adult who has an increased risk of bleeding. These guidelines apply to people who have not been previously diagnosed with heart disease.

The new prevention guideline, he said, is meant to provide a roadmap of strategies that can be used and tailored to help people without a history of heart disease stay heart healthy and, importantly, emphasize the need to identify and address personal or social barriers for doing so (e.g., income and education levels, cost concerns, lack of health insurance, access to healthy foods or safe places to exercise, life stressors).

Exercise is also of great benefit to the heart: At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise (brisk walking, swimming, dancing or biking, for example) is recommended. The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have reversed a decades old recommendation that an aspirin a day helps to prevent cardiovascular problems for certain people.

According to the new guidelines, all of the steps listed above can help you stick to another recommended goal: maintaining a healthy weight.

The guideline, presented at ACC's 68th Annual Scientific Session, March 16-18 in New Orleans, offers comprehensive but practical recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. That risk rises as one ages or develops kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

There's more about heart attack prevention at the American Heart Association.

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