Woohoo… Let’s All Take DrugsPrint
New regulations for statin use increase the number of people who can be prescribed statins.
Oh, what a surprise. According to a recent story in The Washington Post, “Millions more Americans could end up taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new recommendations.” These new recommendations, set forth and supported by both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, have determined that the number of Americans eligible for statin use will double from 36 million to 72 million. If you detect a touch of sarcasm in my tone, you detect right.
That’s a huge increase in people who can now be prescribed drugs.
Half of white men and 60% of African American men by age 50 will be recommended statins by their doctor. Most likely, all men will be recommended statins by age 701. The reason for this increase is due to a widening of parameters used to measure an individual’s need for them. On the one hand, doctors will no longer judge your health or your risk for heart disease by your cholesterol numbers alone, namely your “bad” LDL cholesterol. On the other, they will judge your risk by age, race, past medical history and a battery of other indicators, including if you smoke or have high blood pressure. The more parameters to judge you by, the more likely you will be found to need a statin.
Far more disturbing is that statins will not only be prescribed to people who have been diagnosed with heart disease or high cholesterol, but for people who may have a “7.5% risk factor” for heart disease. In other words, despite looking and feeling healthy, if a red flag for possible heart disease (not now, but within 10 years) pops up in your medical history somewhere, you will be recommended a statin:
“The new recommendations call for prescribing statins to an estimated 33 million Americans who don’t have cardiovascular disease but who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for a heart attack or stroke over the next decade. Examples of groups that could fall into that category include white women over 60 who smoke and African American men over 50 with high blood pressure.”2
Meanwhile, the FDA is increasing its warnings on statin risks (not calling it a “warning,” mind you, but instead calling it “advice”) to include “cognitive (brain-related) impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion; increased risk of raised blood-sugar levels and the development of type 2 diabetes; and increased risk of muscle damage (with certain brands like Mevacor).3 This is completely contradictory to what Lloyd Jones, the Northwestern doctor who helped develop the new guidelines, was quoted saying in The Washington Post: “If these were unsafe drugs, we certainly wouldn’t have put the threshold where we did.”4
Of course, you know what I would advise to all those 7.5 percenters (and anyone else for that matter): take your omega-3s. Try red yeast rice to lower your cholesterol. Quit smoking. Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol naturally through a healthy diet, exercise and healthy supplementation of vitamins and minerals. Get rid of your risk factors BEFORE you become one of 72 million Americans who have drugs to look forward to in their future.