Updated cholesterol guidelines criticized for coronary artery CT scan recommendation

Updated cholesterol guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology suggest a more personalized approach to stroke risk assessment and for determining coronary artery calcium scores with CT scans, among other recommendations, according to an article published Nov. 11 by CNN. 

The new recommendations were announced Saturday, Nov. 10 during the AHA's annual scientific conference in Chicago. They also recommended a returned focus to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) target levels and new drug options for those at highest risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the article.  

Most notably, the new recommendations address criticism of previous guidelines last updated in 2013, Steven Nissen, MD, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, told CNN.  

While in support of the new guidelines overall, Nissen criticized the recommendation which suggested coronary artery calcium scores be measured with CT to determine the need for cholesterol-lowering treatments in uncertain patients. At the Cleveland Clinic, where he works, a scan for a coronary artery. calcium score costs less than $500, but a more thorough scan that includes angiography can exceed $1000, according to the study.

"You're radiating somebody in order to decide whether to use a drug that costs as little as $3 a month, and you're spending a lot of money to do it," Nissen said. "I just don't think it's prudent." 

Read CNN’s entire article below.