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February 4, 2019


Emphasis Shifts to Personalization of Care

February 4, 2019


Emphasis Shifts to Personalization of Care

APPLETON, Wis. – The American Heart Association (AHA) announced new cholesterol treatment guidelines in late 2018, placing greater emphasis on the importance of family history and personal lifestyle as compared to strict adherence to particular cholesterol numbers.

The new guidelines, the first issued since 2013, continue to recommend a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level of 70 mg/dl or less for patients considered at high risk for heart disease. Guidelines also encourage a more in-depth look at the patient’s family history and lifestyle and recommend more involvement by patients in their healthcare management.

“The American Heart Association has long recognized high cholesterol levels as a significant predictor of cardiovascular disease and strongly endorses a combination of lifestyle changes and drug therapy to reduce that risk,” said Kelli K. Heindel, MD, FAAFP, Medical Director Of Primary Care, Clinically Integrated Network for ThedaCare. “These new guidelines push for a broader assessment of the patient’s overall health, with a focus on family history and lifestyle. It’s not just all about numbers anymore.”

Other factors which play a role into the new guidelines include blood pressure readings, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the patient’s activity level and eating habits and the importance of losing excess weight and stopping tobacco use.

While statins remain the drug of choice for lowering LDL cholesterol levels, recent clinical trials have shown that some non-statin drugs may help reduce various cardiovascular risks when used in combination with statins. In addition, the new guidelines also recommend the option of non-invasive coronary artery calcium scans to assist in making the decision whether to use statin therapy or rely on lifestyle changes to reduce LDL levels.

“I appreciate the flexibility of the new guidelines,” said Dr. Heindel. “There is a nod toward common sense decision making with regard to past medical history and family history/genetics. For example, is your family history so bad we should check your cholesterol levels as a teenager or younger? I also like the incorporation of coronary artery calcium screening to help assess the patient’s risk level and guide the decision as to whether to use a statin, particularly in patients who are at high risk but may be statin averse.”

The AHA’s new cholesterol guidelines work in connection with the association’s Life is Why program, which centers around changing policy, promoting breakthroughs in science and technology and transforming healthcare and communities to reduce the incidence of heart disease.

ThedaCare is the first community health system in Wisconsin to partner with the American Heart Association for the Life is Why program. The focus is to educate the public about heart disease and create a culture of health in the communities ThedaCare serves.

“Better heart health will allow people to live longer, more vibrant lives to enjoy the people and the activities they love,” said Dr. Heindel. “ThedaCare is embracing this program as part of our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve.”

Here are just a few ways residents in the area and beyond will see the Life is Why commitment in the community:

  • Promote employee wellness in local workplaces
  • Instill heart-healthy habits in kids through the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge in more than a dozen local schools
  • Distribute CPR kits in the community and train residents in the life-saving skill of CPR
  • Community-wide education and awareness on a variety of health and wellness topics

“We are thrilled to have ThedaCare as a major sponsor of our work in Wisconsin,” said Kim Friend, Senior Vice President, Eastern Field Operations for the AHA. “This relationship will raise awareness of our country’s leading health threat and create a culture of health to make an impact right here where we live, work and play.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.