Women, controversial statin guidelines, and common sense

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

101109expIf you’re a heart patient, I’m betting that you’re already taking one of the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. That’s because these drugs – with brand names like Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor or any of their generic forms – are routinely prescribed to those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Many studies (largely funded by the drug companies that make statins) suggest that, for heart attack survivors, these drugs may help to significantly lower our risk of having another cardiac event. It’s what doctors call “secondary prevention”.

Some studies further suggest that statins are also useful for those who’ve never had heart disease, but who do have high LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol – what’s called “primary prevention”. But recently, statins hit the front page of The New York Times with a big fat *splat* when new clinical practice guidelines for treating/preventing heart disease were released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology (both heart organizations that are coincidentally largely funded by drug companies, too). The guidelines essentially said: from now on, forget about your LDL numbers. It’s all about your risk factors now. 

The likely result of this change, as I observed here and here, is the recommendation that, as long as you have a detectable pulse, you need to take statins. 

Continue reading “Women, controversial statin guidelines, and common sense”

Do women need to worry about cholesterol?

cholesterolby Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Physician Dr. Rob Lamberts does a creative job of clearing up some confusing questions about cholesterol in his always enlightening “Musings of a Distractible Mind” and related House Call Doctor podcast at Quick & Dirty Tips.

He starts off by reminding us that the current protocols for treating high cholesterol date back to before he was practicing medicine.

“Some smart scientists had noticed that people with high cholesterol had a higher risk of heart attack. More scientists got together and decided that, based on the evidence, keeping a low cholesterol number was a good idea. To celebrate their decision, they went out to a dinner of bacon cheeseburgers and donuts.”     Continue reading “Do women need to worry about cholesterol?”

Women at greater risk for side effects when taking statin drugs for cholesterol

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Statins are the largest selling class of prescription drugs on earth, and account for over 40% of all heart  medications. Lipitor, for example, at over $26 billion in global sales, was the world’s biggest selling drug, manufactured by the world’s biggest drug company, Pfizer.

Because of their effectiveness in managing cholesterol levels, statins are often prescribed to lower total cholesterol in the belief that lower numbers will mean fewer heart attacks. Most people who are prescribed statins are healthy people who don’t have heart disease but who simply have high cholesterol. They will take these drugs for the rest of their lives, making statins a dream drug for the pharmaceutical companies that make them. Continue reading “Women at greater risk for side effects when taking statin drugs for cholesterol”