Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Would I like to take a statin? No thank you

I recently had a routine heart health screening – the kind you get when you’re of a certain age – which concluded that I have a 13% risk of a heart attack in the next 10 years. (Or, the way I view risk, an 87% chance of NOT having a heart attack in the next 10 years). ‘There’s nothing you can do about your family history or age, both of which influence this result,’ my GP explained. ‘So it’s just a matter of eating healthily and taking enough exercise’ (which I like to think I’m already doing). The further good news was that, with my risk, the GP would not yet need to treat me with drugs.
But then, just days later, came the news that NICE now plans to suggest everyone with a 10% risk should be offered a statin…! So that would include me.
What would I do if I was offered one? Well 1) I'd hope my GP would be shaking his head and pulling a “say no” kind of face while offering the drug. And 2) I’d point out that actually I do not have high cholesterol so – whatever my overall heart disease risk - what would be the point of taking a drug to lower the already healthy level of fat in my blood? Far better to lower my overall risk by taking a blood pressure drug if I have hypertension.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the Australian cardiologist Dr Ross Walker who pointed out that you have to treat 60 people for five years to prevent one non fatal heart attack, or 260 people for 5 years to prevent one stroke – and there is no difference in mortality figures in people in either group, whether they do or don’t take statins.

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