Impact of the New National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Guidelines on Patient Management

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PurposeTo update nurse practitioners (NPs) on the latest National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for the management of high blood cholesterol in adults.Data SourcesThe 2001 NCEP Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III guidelines and supporting scientific reviews and reports of clinical trials related to the evidence upon which the guidelines are based.ConclusionsThe many new features of the ATP III guidelines include an increased emphasis on the patient with multiple risk factors in order to identify appropriate candidates for primary prevention and on more stringent classifications of elevated lipid/lipoprotein levels. However, elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol continue to be the focus for both primary and secondary prevention, and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglu-tarylcoenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) are clearly the drugs of choice for decreasing LDL cholesterol in most patients.Implications for PracticeBecause NPs play key roles in optimizing treatment management, it is important that they become familiar with, and be prepared to help implement, these latest guidelines. By embracing the global risk assessment approach of ATP III and aggressively treating all at-risk patients, NPs can take a proactive role in helping to halt the progression of coronary heart disease and its consequences.

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