Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III)

Claude Lenfant, M.D.
Director
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
May 15, 2001

Press Conference Remarks

Release of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (ATP III)

Good morning. Today we will present to you new clinical practice guidelines on the prevention and management of high blood cholesterol in adults.

These are the first new guidelines since 1993 and they are based on an in-depth review and analysis of the latest scientific evidence on cholesterol testing and treatment.

The fundamental principle behind these evidence-based guidelines is the fact that we can now say with certainty that lowering a high blood cholesterol level—specifically a high LDL or "bad cholesterol"—dramatically reduces a person's risk for coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., striking down about 500,000 people each year—primarily by heart attack.

As you will soon hear, the new guidelines call for more aggressive cholesterol-lowering treatment and better identification of those at high risk for a heart attack. The guidelines feature a new tool to help predict a person's chance of having a heart attack within 10 years.

Americans at high risk for heart attack are too often not identified and, so, don't receive sufficiently aggressive treatment. Yet, studies show conclusively that lowering the level of LDL can reduce the short-term risk for heart disease by as much as 40 percent. And treatment may lower risk over the long-term even more.

The new guidelines, known as ATP 3, are expected to substantially expand the number of Americans being treated for high cholesterol. If these guidelines are followed, the number of Americans on dietary treatment will increase from about 52 million to about 65 million and the number prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug will increase from about 13 million to about 36 million.

And if the number of Americans who are appropriately treated goes up, we anticipate that deaths from heart disease will go down and lives will be prolonged.

Before I introduce today's speakers, I would like to take a minute to thank the 27 expert panel members and consultants who have worked so diligently over the last 20 months to produce these guidelines. I would also like to thank – and introduce to you today – Dr. Phil B. Fontanarosa, executive deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Dr. Fontanarosa's efforts to expedite publication of the executive summary in tomorrow's issue of JAMA will certainly help bring the guidelines to the attention of physicians and speed their adoption into actual practice. His enthusiasm and commitment to the highest quality of medical practice and improvement in public health are to be commended.

I would also like to thank and to introduce our first speaker Dr. Scott Grundy. Dr. Grundy served as chairman of the ATP 3 expert panel. In his other full time job, he is director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Dr. Grundy's superb leadership of the panel as it organized and reviewed a monumental amount of research was invaluable. His scientific statesmanship and his extraordinary ability to foster consensus were crucial ingredients in the panel's successful efforts. I must also voice my appreciation for the fact that he was equally dedicated when he was chairman of the second adult treatment panel.

Today Dr. Grundy will review the main recommendations of ATP 3. Our second speaker will be Dr. James Cleeman, coordinator of the National Cholesterol Education Program. He will discuss the significance of the guidelines and their implications and will report on our efforts to foster their use by professionals and patients. Following Dr. Cleeman's remarks, we will take questions. Dr. Grundy.


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