Women and statins: Are the risks worth it?

The question of whether to take a pill is always whether the side effects, the cost and the inconvenience are worth the benefit.  The benefit risk profile for statin use in women is even more doubtful than in men.

To repeat, while statins do lower cholesterol their benefits are doubtful for all except people who have already had a heart attack and then they only  modestly prevent heart attack and stroke but do not significantly lower overall mortality. (Always ask your physician for absolute risk figures and ignore relative risk numbers.)

 

An estimated 12 million American women are routinely prescribed statins, which carry a risk of serious side effects. Yet there is little evidence that they prevent heart disease in women. In past research, statin therapy has been shown to prolong the lives of people with heart disease. It has also been shown to stave off the onset of heart disease in healthy at-risk adults. But researchers who have broken out and analyzed the data on healthy female patients in these trials found that the lifesaving benefit, which extends to men, does not cross the gender divide. What’s more, there’s evidence that women are more likely than men to suffer some of the drugs’ serious side effects, which can include memory loss, muscle pain and diabetes.

In a smaller group of women — those who already have heart disease — the data suggests that statins can reduce heart-related deaths. But as Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, says, they don’t reduce deaths overall. “Any reduction in death from heart disease seen in the data has been completely offset by deaths from other causes,” she says. Which raises the question: If statins do not help prolong women’s lives, why are so many women taking them?

Slicing the Sex Data

“There are millions of women on a drug with no known benefit and risks that are detrimental to their lifestyle — and no one is talking about it. Why?” asks Dr. Rita Redberg, a prominent cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

more via Women, Heart Disease: Do Statin Drugs like Crestor Work? – TIME.

Needless to say, this article has thrown some in the medical world into a panic.  The claim is that it is going to confuse the public.  The implications is that we, the public, are too ignorant to consider all aspects of recommendations and so should be only spoon fed the slanted truth.

Follow this link to Heartwire to witness the panic: 

http://www.theheart.org/article/1063529.do

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