Doctors in the United States are urging more people to consider taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines Tuesday that will reshape the use of the drugs.
Patients on the statins will no longer need to lower their cholesterol levels to specific numeric targets monitored by regular blood tests, which had been recommended for decades.
Under the new advice, 33 million Americans would meet the threshold to consider taking a statin -- that's 44 percent of men and 22 percent of women.
But some doctors say only a small percentage actually need the statins.
Dr. Steve Sinatra, author of The Great Cholesterol Myth, says for many statin users, the risks outweigh the gains.
"The side effects of statins are grossly under-reported, I mean grossly under-reported," he said.
He said patients taking the drugs often complain about difficulty getting out of a chair, weakness in their thighs, trouble playing doubles tennis, and exhaustion from just walking the dog.
He added, "... a lot of the doctors and patients think they're getting older. They're not getting older -- these are statin side effects."
Experts say it is unclear how much the new guidelines will change clinical practice.