In the face of a highly critical story in the New York Times by Gina Kolata about the new cardiovascular guidelines, authors of the guidelines and leaders of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology defended the value and integrity of the guidelines.
The Times story claims that the cardiovascular risk calculator used to assess individual risk in the new guidelines is deeply flawed. “In a major embarrassment to the health groups, the calculator appears to greatly overestimate risk, so much so that it could mistakenly suggest that millions more people are candidates for statin drugs.” The story quotes former ACC president Steve Nissen: “It’s stunning. We need a pause to further evaluate this approach before it is implemented on a widespread basis.”
But the guideline authors and AHA/ACC officials strenuously defended the guideline at a news conference Monday morning at the American Heart Association meeting in Dallas. They said the new risk calculator is far superior to previous efforts, incorporating far more data that now includes stroke assessment and for the first time provides specific predictions for African Americans.
The assembled officials rejected any call to delay implantation of the guidelines, but one author, Donald Lloyd-Jones said that “over time we will modify the risk scores so that they get better and better.”
“We think we’ve done our due diligence,” said AHA president Mariell Jessup. “We have faith and trust in the people who developed the guidelines.”