Thursday, March 26, 2015

When statins aren't necessary any longer

I was happy to see this article on NPR's Facebook feed the other day:

If You're Going To Die Soon, Do You Really Need Statins?

Why we need a study to tell us that terminally ill people can and should stop taking any drugs that aren't completely necessary at that stage in their lives, I don't know, but I'm pleased with the findings.

Going off statins didn't cause a significant increase in heart attack risks or hasten death, the study found. People lived about seven months from the start of the study. And though there weren't significant differences in quality of life, people did say they felt better and were happier to be taking fewer medications.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I made a decision to get off Lipitor about seven years ago.  I have never regretted it.  I drink grapefruit juice daily to keep my LDL down -- and yes, this does work -- and I am all that much happier to be taking fewer drugs.

Statins especially are, in my opinion, over-prescribed.  I blogged about a year ago about new cholesterol guidelines that would have half of all adults over 40 on statins.  What nonsense!  Even doctors were questioning those guidelines.

I wholeheartedly feel that focusing too much on cholesterol readings -- one tiny factor -- is to miss the big picture.  There are some studies already that suggest that your risk of heart attack isn't as dependent on cholesterol levels as we once thought.  That's why I -- an active young female with a healthy weight -- decided I didn't really need to be on Lipitor, even if I am diabetic.  In fact, I think the studies that show an increase in the risk of a heart attack for diabetics is probably swayed by the fact that the vast majority of diabetics are type 2 and overweight.  Do a study on just type 1 diabetics if you want to convince me.

In any case, I do know that if I knew I was going to die soon, I would definitely stop taking any drug that wasn't absolutely necessary.  Terminally ill people usually have a whole host of drugs they have to take to keep them alive and pain-free, so why add more to that mix?  And even if they don't, let them enjoy being drug-free for what time they have left.

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