On November 12, 2013, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association issued clinical guidelines on cardiovascular disease risk assessment and cholesterol treatment. The new guidelines quickly became the source of debate among stakeholders and the controversy was widely covered in the news media.
Four new articles published in Annals of Internal Medicine seek to help physicians make sense of the new guidelines amidst the controversy. In a synopsis of the recommendations, guideline panel members summarize the key features of the guidelines and how the recommendations will work in practice to reduce the risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death, lost quality of life, and increased health care costs.
In an accompanying commentary, authors praise the doctor-patient collaboration recommended in the guidelines but advise health care providers to seek a middle ground when making treatment decisions.
A second commentary applauds the panel for basing statin treatment on risk factors rather than LDL-C targets because this approach greatly simplifies treatment for clinicians and patients.
Finally, an editorial explores why guidelines seem to generate controversy and urges physicians to listen to the evidence, not the noise created by the disagreement over the new recommendations.