Dr. Weeks’ Comment: I good friend of mine just returned from visiting his cardiologist and told me he learned from this learned physician the following claim “New studies prove that statins reduce heart attacks by 50%”. Well, readers of this newsletter can imagine that I myself almost had a heart attack when I heard what I believed to be a bald-faced (self-serving) lie! So, after recovering, I did some research. Here is what I found.
The highly respected cardiologist Dr Eric Topol considers the effect of a statin drug on reducing heart attack risk to be “insignificant” and has repeatedly called for “dialing back” the over prescribing of these side-effect ridden drugs.
Another useful way to consider the risk-benefit data regarding statins, says Begley, is to look at something called the “number needed to treat” (NNT):
NNT simply means how many people must be given a medication, undergo surgery, have a diagnostic test, or have any other medical intervention in order for a single one of them to benefit from it. That number can be surprisingly high even for interventions with unquestioned benefits. For instance, 16 people with open fracturers need to receive antibiotics for one to benefit; eight people need to take inhaled steroids during an asthma attack to prevent one from going to the hospital. In each case the vast majority of people would not have developed infections or needed a trip to the ER, respectively, even without the intervention. The NNT in these cases is 16 and eight.
“Statins for primary prevention have a stratospherically higher NNT. Sixty people would have to take a statin for five years for one to avoid a heart attack; 60 is the NNT for avoiding this outcome. And 268 people without heart disease would need to take a statin for five years for one person to be saved from a stroke; 268 is therefore the NNT for avoiding this outcome.”
The NNT (number needed to treat) is “stratospherically higher” and does not justify taking statin drugs.
So where does the 50% reduction in heart attacks come from? Probably from here – a recent news article about clinical trials using INJECTABLE drugs which offer intriguing but “not definitive” results. But these are not statin drugs; they are monoclonal antibody drugs which lower cholesterol.
And, while I have your attention, just how beneficial is it to lower cholesterol in people over 60? Not very. The cholesterol paradox demonstrates that the lower the cholesterol the greater the risk of death!
And it is inflammation and not cholesterol which is the culprit. Forget testing your “good and bad cholesterol” and test your triglycerides and your inflammatory markers C-reactive protein, fibrinogen and homocysteine.
And refuse any pressure to take statins. Rocket scientists and NASA doctors like Dr. Duane Graveline, M.D. stop taking statins and many doctors are now telling the truth: high cholesterol does not increase the risk of heart attack.
But as we learned today, some doctors have a hard time telling the truth…..so, as always, “patient beware”!