Before Taking a Statin, Read This

I thought this was an interesting article from Businessweek a couple of years ago and was blown away by the numbers showing that few people actually receive any benefit from statins.

If you don’t read it, then here are a few tidbits from the article that I thought would give it to you in a nutshell:

  • …for every 100 people in the trial, which lasted 3 1/3 years, three people on placebos and two people on Lipitor had heart attacks. The difference credited to the drug? One fewer heart attack per 100 people. So to spare one person a heart attack, 100 people had to take Lipitor for more than three years. The other 99 got no measurable benefit.
  • …an estimated 10% to 15% of statin users suffer side effects, including muscle pain, cognitive impairments, and sexual dysfunction
  • “There’s a tendency to assume drugs work really well, but people would be surprised by the actual magnitude of the benefits,”
  • For anyone worried about heart disease, the first step should always be a better diet and increased physical activity. Do that, and “we would cut the number of people at risk so dramatically” that far fewer drugs would be needed…
  • “The way our health-care system runs, it is not based on data, it is based on what makes money.”  

It’s amazing how much industry and their marketing overstate claims and directly affect the beliefs of people in these drugs. This kind of influence in our healthcare system desperately needs to be fixed.

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