Dr Russ Blog - Does Everyone Need A Statin?
Does Everyone Need A Statin?
Created on 12/6/2013
In early November, and to much fanfare, new guidelines for the management of risk factors for heart disease and stroke were released, including guidelines on the management of blood cholesterol.
As you know, cholesterol levels (especially LDL, the "bad" cholesterol) when elevated are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Using a newly developed risk calculator, and after performance of an exhaustive review of existing research, the expert panel gave their recommendations -
and showed that nearly half of all adults in the US could benefit from taking prescription statin drugs.
Statin drugs help lower cholesterol levels and may decrease inflammation in the body.
The "joke" about putting statins in our drinking water is now not so funny.
So do you need to go out and ASK to be placed on a statin drug?
Indeed, your doctor may have already spoken with you about the benefits of statin therapy in your specific circumstances, as well as the risks -
your doctor may have read the new guidelines -
your doctor may have great confidence in the guidelines because they have been developed by people deserving of respect -
but your doctor likely still has many questions about the recommendations, is unlikely to accept them uncritically, and probably won't make sweeping changes for his patients with one broad swing by suddenly placing many more patients on statins.
Critics note that the calculator used has not been fully tested and likely overestimates the real need for statin therapy. They also point out that more than half the experts involved have ties to the pharmaceutical industry - while conspiracy theorists will have lots to consider because of this, I think the experts deserve the benefit of the doubt.
But all in all most practitioners believe these guidelines are a significant overstep - to suggest that half of all US adults need a prescription drug to promote optimal health goes against deeply held core values.
What to do?
Clarity will come with more conversation and study.
Should you ask your doctor about the need for statin therapy? That's usually not necessary, as your doctor should bring it up if there is reason, but you can.
Does everyone really need to take a statin?
In my mind, no.
Follow a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, exercise regularly, manage stress well, get enough sleep each night and you may be able to lessen your need for medications.
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **
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