“We have a saying in medicine. If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.” – Cardiologist Dr. Barbara Roberts on cholesterol guidelines.
It seems like every time the mainstream media reports some new changes to health guidelines, another recruit of people is suddenly considered in the unhealthy class.
Nowhere is this pattern seen more prominently than in the heart health industry. After all, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, having killed 597,000 Americans in 2011.
A Few Notable Examples of Changing Health Guidelines:
In 1998, around 29 million Americans became overweight overnight without gaining a single pound, thanks to new body mass index (BMI) standards by the NIH. Many were suddenly considered obese, including most athletes.
In 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology published new cholesterol guidelines that increased the number of people who could be offered statin drugs by the tens of millions. A study came out that same year challenging these new calculators.
In early 2018, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology again tinkered with guidelines, and lowered what constitutes hypertension (high blood pressure). Now, readings above 130/80 are categorized as high blood pressure, meaning many people are now considered hypertensive.
So, as you can see, the AHA is mainly responsible for some of these major changes. We’d like to circle back to the 2013 change – the one that determined many Americans were now at risk with their cholesterol and should be placed on statins.