Harvard Men's Health Watch

New guidelines could make it easier for you to keep your heart healthy

The science leans toward more aggressive use of statin drugs to prevent heart problems, but medication is not a "must do."

Doctors have a new roadmap for preventing heart attacks, strokes, and other harmful outcomes of cardiovascular disease. The guidelines, released by experts with the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology in November 2013, are the first update in more than a decade. "The guidelines provide a simplified approach to reducing cardiovascular risk," says Dr. Joanne Foody, an expert in preventive cardiology at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The guidelines have reignited the debate over how many Americans should take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. But they are just a roadmap of options, not a push-button list of must-do's. You don't need to take a statin unless you and your doctor agree that its benefits are worth the costs.

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