In a video that I did earlier this year outlining my experience with open heart surgery I mentioned that my Doctor, Cardiologist and Surgeon all wanted to put me on a statin but I refused.
The following question is quite typical of those I get asked.
Typical questions on statins
John sent me this question.
“I am taking a statin drug which I am not happy about. I see that you refused to take a statin or any other medication. I would like to know your reasons behind that.”
A valid question, and it is quite a long answer and so I will break it into two separate videos.
Before I start on the answer I want to make it quite clear that the purpose of my raising this, and my explanation, is not to be construed as giving out medical advice. It is also not telling you that you should stop your medication. That is an issue between yourself and your Doctor. My role is to bring to the surface some facts that many people may not be aware of and as such stimulate them to do their own research and then make up their own mind.
Knowledge is key
The issue of statins and cholesterol is a really big deal. A lack of knowledge about this subject means lives are lost and quality of life is impaired for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world
Now, before I go further it is important that you don’t blame your Doctor for trying to put you on a cholesterol lowering drug such as a statin.
Doctors are busy people and most of them do not have time to do independent studies about a particular medication. Also, they have to be careful that they follow the guidelines for their medical association. They run the risk of getting into serious trouble and even the possibility of being sued if they don’t.
When a Doctor prescribes a statin drug they are generally doing so with the best intentions…and that is understandable.
Look at the data behind the headlines
Look at this advertisement published in a medical journal for Doctors.
It is for Lipitor, a statin drug, and is endorsed by a respected Doctor. Now, what fair minded Doctor would not be impressed by those numbers? Who wouldn’t want to prescribe it to his or her patients who were at risk of a heart attack?
A 36% reduction of risk? Wow, that is massive. With figures like that, even I could be tempted.
But, is it really that good? Let’s have a closer look!
Absolute versus relative comparisons
The data determining that reduction of risk came from a study published in the European Heart Journal in Feb 2008. This study determined that 3.1% of the participants in the study who received a placebo had a heart attack. In contrast, only 2% who were taking the drug had one. This is where the reduction of risk of 36% comes from.
If a Doctor hasn’t done the research, and conveys there is a 36% lower risk with statins, patients will be rushing to get a prescription.
But, if the Doctor has dug into the study a bit further it is not so exciting. The reduction in risk in absolute terms is much less…like 1.1%.
Know what the numbers mean
In other words, this drug may reduce your risk of a heart attack in 1 out of 100 cases.
Is it worth the potential of suffering all the side effects such as muscle pain, brain fogginess, impotence and much more from this drug.
The risk of side effects are downplayed. I will tell you how this is done in my next video.
As a parting thought for today consider this… Although the risk of an actual heart attack was less in this study the overwhelming majority of studies on statins show that there is no overall improvement in mortality…which is really the key at the end of the day.
More about this interesting subject shortly.