New guidelines set out by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology could soon double the number of U.S. patients on statins, or cholesterol lowering medicine.    While statins have been widely prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attacks, the new guidelines recommend that they also be considered for people at high risk of stroke. 

That new criteria, that could raise the number of people on statins from about 15% to over 32%, will now in to account things like a person’s diet, exercise,  whether they smoke and their medical history.  KTRH Medical Expert Dr. Joe Galati with Houston’s Methodist Hospital says that with the new factors that a patient who may have a low cholesterol number may still be given a cholesterol lowering drug while at the same time a person who may have been taking statins for years because of a high number might be taken off the medication depending on their current lifestyle.

The updated recommendations for treating cholesterol are "a huge, huge departure" from doctors' usual procedure, but the end result will be to lower the number of people who die each year of heart disease which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is about 600,000 in the U.S.  It is also the number one killer of people in the world.