New guidelines on preventing cardiovascular disease mean a substantial change in the assessment and management of risk, including a shift away from aiming toward specific LDL targets. The change is a big one for doctors, who have for years worked with patients to manage cholesterol numbers. "If you ask patients, 'Why do you take a statin?' they say 'to lower my cholesterol level,' not 'to lower my cardiovascular risk,'" said internist Dr. Steven Woloshin. But cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster points out that in addition to influencing cholesterol levels, statins reduce clotting and inflammation, while drugs whose sole effect is lower LDL levels do not appear to be effective in other areas.

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