ACC, AHA release first cardiovascular disease primary prevention guideline



The other major, new recommendations in the guideline deal with aspirin use for primary prevention, which recently underwent a shake up with publication of results from several studies that showed less cardiovascular benefit and more potential bleeding harm from routine aspirin prophylaxis than previously appreciated. Among the most notable of these reports, which led to a class III recommendation – do not use – for aspirin in people more than 70 years old came from the ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) study (New Engl J Med. 2018 Oct 18;379[16]:1519-28). For those 40-70 years old, the recommendation is class IIb, worded as “might be considered for select adults.”

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Dr. Amit Khera

“Generally no, occasionally yes,” is aspirin appropriate for people in this age group, notably those at high risk for cardiovascular disease and also at low risk for bleeding, explained Amit Khera, MD, a guideline-panel member, and professor of medicine and director of preventive cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

As a guideline for primary prevention, a prime target audience is primary care physicians, who would need to be instrumental in applying the guideline. But the guideline recommendations released by the ACC and AHA for blood pressure management in 2017 were not accepted by U.S. groups that represent primary care physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

John J. Warner, MD, an interventional cardiologist, executive vice president for health system affairs at UT Southwestern, and president of the AHA when the blood pressure guideline came out said that the ACC and AHA “learned some lessons” from the blood pressure experience. The societies responded this time around by “trying to view the document through as many lenses as possible” during the peer review process, Dr. Warner said during the press conference.

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Dr. John J. Warner

“I don’t think the new guideline will be seen as anything except positive,” commented Martha Gulati, MD, professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona in Phoenix. Collecting all the cardiovascular disease recommendations for primary prevention in one document “helps clinicians access the information easily and helps patients see the big picture,” said Dr. Gulati, who was not involved in the guideline’s writing or review.

Dr. Martha Gulati

She especially applauded the recommendations to assess each person’s social determinants of health, the team-care approach, and the recommendations dealing with diet and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. “This was a perfect time” to bring together the existing blood pressure and cholesterol guidelines, the new guidance on aspirin use, and the other recommendation in a single document, she said in an interview.

Dr. Arnett, Dr. Michos, Dr. Khera, Dr. Warner, and Dr. Gulati had no disclosures.

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SOURCE: Arnett DK et al. J Amer Coll Cardiol. 2019 March 17;doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.03.010.

Primary prevention guideline: The top 10 takeaways

1. Most importantly, have a healthy lifestyle throughout life.
2. Use team-based care, and evaluate each person’s social determinants of health to inform management.
3. Perform a 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk estimation on adults age 75 years or younger.
4. Eat a healthy diet, and maintain normal weight.
5. Engage in physical activity.
6. Manage type 2 diabetes appropriately.
7. Stop smoking tobacco.
8. Use aspirin infrequently for primary prevention.
9. Use statin treatment appropriately to reduce risk and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
10. Manage blood pressure to recommended levels, generally less than 130/80 mm Hg.

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