Yesterday, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released earth shattering new guidelines on who should be taking statins – recommendations which have the very real potential to increase the number of people currently taking the lifelong drugs by 35 million.
Dr. Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic described the radical change in approach to heart disease as “an enormous shift in policy as it relates to who should be treated for high levels of cholesterol.”
The bottom line is that the new guidelines abandon total cholesterol above 180 or a single minded focus to reduce LDL (“bad” cholesterol) below 100 as a justification for statins. Instead, risk factors will be used to assess heart disease risk instead of static numbers from a blood test.
The way the risk factors are to be assessed is via the four following questions:
- Do you have heart disease?
- Do you have diabetes (Type 1 or 2)?
- Do you an LDL above 190?
- Is your 10 year risk for heart disease greater than 7.5%?
If you answer “yes” to even one of the questions above, conventional doctors will now push for you to be on statins – most likely permanently.
Dr. Neil Stone, chairman for the committee responsible for the new guidelines, said that LDL will still be important, but no longer the focus:
Our guidelines are not against that. We’re simply saying how you get the LDL low is important. Considering all the possible treatments, we recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle and statin therapy for the best chance of reducing your risk of stroke or heart attack in the next 10 years.
Calculating Heart Disease Risk
How is a 10 year heart disease risk calculated?
According to Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, risk equations for non-Hispanic white men and women and African-American men and women have been developed that factor in age, sex, race, total and HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels, blood pressure treatment status along with diabetes and current smoking status.
An individual’s risk assessment under the new guidelines can be determined using this online calculator.
Experts Insist New Guidelines Are About Saving Lives Not Making Money
Dr. Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic said the new guidelines which focus on a group of risk factors instead of just cholesterol will effectively double the number of people on statins, from 37 million today to 72 million.
Yet, he insists that the pharmaceutical industry has no money to make from the new guidelines. He even went on to say that it may cause a “downturn” in their business!
“Now, except for Crestor, they’re virtually all generic — you can get a three-month supply for $10. So there’s really no money to be made with statins anymore.”
It seems that Dr. Nissen is forgetting a very important point: what an individual pays for a prescription does not represent the total revenue earned by the pharmaceutical industry. Health insurance companies and the government pay and/or subsidize these drugs as well.
Remember the “free” H1N1 flu shots a few years back? “Free” to the consumer does not mean the pharmaceutical industry has donated the medicine out of the goodness of the stockholders’ hearts. Rather, it just means the government forked out millions instead with the consumer indirectly footing the bill.
Even if $10 did accurately represent the total cost for a 3 month supply of statins per person, $10 multiplied by 35 million is $350 million – and that would be earned 4x per year boosting pharmaceutical industry revenue by 1.4 BILLION dollars every single year.
That ain’t chump change my friends!
Risk Factors Still Portray Cholesterol as a Villain of Health
While focusing on risk factors rather than numbers on a piece of paper is a step in the right direction, the overall strategy for assessing cardiovascular risk still inaccurately portrays cholesterol as a villain.
The truth is that people with high cholesterol are not necessarily more likely to have a heart attack. While men who are young or middle aged have a slightly greater risk for heart attack if their total cholesterol level is over 300, for elderly women and men, high cholesterol is associated with a longer life. In addition, cholesterol levels just below 300 carry no greater risk than very low cholesterol levels.
In addition, the science does not indicate that cholesterol-lowering drugs save lives. Statins do not result in any improvement in outcome in recent trials involving thousands of test subjects. Why risk the devastating side effects of statins like cancer, muscle wasting and significant mental decline when they don’t help anyway? (source)
Opting out of the statin madness is still undeniably the best policy even with implementation of these new and “improved” guidelines.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Not on cholesterol meds? New guidelines may change that
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The French Paradox is Not a Paradox
Statin drugs shown to be largely ineffective for the majority of people who take them, but why does this fact seem to have passed researchers by?
My cardiologist recommened 5gr crestor for my due to my Lp(a)
Total 193 < 200
LDL 126 < 160
Fe 60 limits 65-175
Lp(a) 96,7 <30
Stanley Fishman @ Tender Grassfed Meat
I will never take statins, not for any reason. I have seen what they did to the memory of a friend of mine, who started having severe memory problems in his forties. When he finally stopped the statins, his memory returned/
I have not taken any drugs at all, either prescription or over the counter, for eleven years, and this has been the healthiest period of my life.
Real food gives the natural functions of our bodies what is needed to keep us healthy and functioning well.
Health is not dependent on the medical profession. It is your health we are taking about. You have to take charge of it. Educate your self in your health issues. Reach out to all the subject matter experts, that you trust, like Sarah Pope of “The Healthy Home Economist” and ask questions when ever you can. Do this as much as you can on issues that concern you. As you build a base line of knowledge,
you can start forming an idea of what you want to do for yourself. This was my starting point, after three month I had a series of blood test to see where I was. After that I started to do that every six to eight month I asked my doctor to schedule a blood test to check my progress. I don’t let my doctor guide my care. I tell my doctor what I want to see happening in my care. Read, read, read
educate yourself and take you control of your health and direct your doctor in the direction you want to go.
To your health,
saw on oz the other day ( watch it to see what stupid thing he will say next so I can defuse it with truth to people who believe by telling them what mercola says) anyway oz said, dont eat garlic because it will do the same thing! as a statin! I think the person who was on stage was thinking cause she asked, does it enhance the drug. when he said no it does the same thing so dont eat it I hope she was still thinking and thought, Oz your an idiot. I hope everyone was thinking that but most will be bought into the stupidity.
Why would anyone believe that the pharmaceutical corporations are any more ethical than the tobacco corporations?
This is so typical of western medicine. What a huge joke it is. I think the truth is, they convince the hurd that they need this drug and that drug, which of course just creates more problems, more sickness,and in the meantime they rake in more money off the masses as they are slowly killed off. When are people going to realize that this is all about making big pharm tons of money, and nothing more. If people would only spend half as much money on healthy eating and lifestyles as they do on their pharmaceuticals, imagine what they could accomplish. Our bodies are these absolutely amazing machines That are naturally designed to heal. BUT, they need real food! It’s a miricale that bodies continue to run when given litterally nothing but man made garbage as fuel to run on.
Thanks for posting, this of course has been all of the news of late. I realize from the comments here and your subscribing, we’re mostly preaching to the choir….. but I am personally thankful there are so many now out there that are fighting the good fight (and the numbers are growing!)
Quick note. My good friend and old high school buddy, just ended up in the hospital – 90% blocked artery, stent installed. He’s ok. He has been on a Statin for “high cholesterol” (don’t know his numbers.) He’s 6′ somethin’, can’t weigh more than 170lbs, eats the SAD – standard American Diet, thought he was healthy…. “lot’s of whole grain…. low fat/no fat…”
That’s what’s going on in this country. More pills that DO NOT fix or prevent anything.
I am with those above who have removed a statin and bp meds and reduced my bp to normal levels by changing my diet lifestyle. “Period.” (slight dig, sorry.)