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Do I need cholesterol lowering drugs? Along with checking your blood pressure knowing your cholesterol reading is an important part …

Do I need cholesterol lowering drugs?

Along with checking your blood pressure knowing your cholesterol reading is an important part of working out your risk of a heart attack or stroke. The problem with these conditions is whilst the risk can often be calculated the actual events themselves are sudden unpredictable and frequently devastating. For instance about half of heart attacks result in sudden death so waiting til you have one to modify your risk is clearly too late!!

Since the 1950s the overall rates of stroke and heart attack in our community have declined mostly due to the decline in smoking rates but also due to the better detection and treatment of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.


We know that a diet high in processed foods and animal fats and low in vegetables and fibre contribute to high cholesterol but also some people have inherited genes which contribute to their high cholesterol readings. This is why GPs will often recommend other family members have their cholesterol checked if someone has a high reading.

However working out if you need drug treatment as well as dietary and lifestyle change and ongoing monitoring is often quite complicated. The benefit of treating high cholesterol really depends on your own actual risk usually calculated over the next 5 years. We now have a way to estimate your own personal risk through a calculator www.cvdcheck.org.au which is based on data from large population studies. Whilst it doesn’t include every possible factor which influences your overall risk most of the major factors are included. This is true especially of age and smoking. Is common to underestimate the effect age alone has on the risk of of heart attack and stroke. You can also change the figures in the calculator to see what effect having a higher or lower BP having diabetes or being 5-10 years older will have on your risk.

If you are getting symptoms however which you think could be related to warning signs of a heart attack or stroke the risk calculator is of course of no help at all. Always seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have symptoms or call 000.


Dr Fiona McGrath
(MBBS, Dip.O&G.)

Call 07 5444 1522 to book an appointment with Dr Fiona or Click here to make an appointment online

Dr Fiona McGrath is one of the Sunshine Coasts leading GPs and has a strong interest in women’s health issues.
Originally trained in Victoria, she has a number of roles in Primary Care Health in Australia, including a role as trainer to registrars and serves on several boards, where she uses her experience and knowledge to help educate patients and the community about health issues.
She has extensive experience and a strong following on the Sunshine Coast and is available for appointments.

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