The Statin Fiasco

Written by Stephen R. Smith, M.D., M.P.H., Community Catalyst physician consultant and long-standing National Physicians Alliance member.

The new recommendations from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology on the use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol caught my attention as a family physician. Not only were they recommending statins for patients with high cholesterol who had already suffered a heart attack or stroke or who had diabetes, but also for people without these risk factors. This was a game-changer.

I routinely prescribed a low-cost generic statin like lovastatin for all my patients with cardiovascular disease or diabetes with the goal of bringing their “bad” cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) below 100 mg/dL or even lower, if possible. The scientific data was very clear that doing this helped prevent future heart attacks or strokes.

But the new guidelines also recommended statin therapy for patients without those risk factors if a new “Pooled Cohort Risk Assessment Equation” predicted their chances of having a heart attack or stroke as equal to or greater than 7.5 percent over the next 10 years. I decided to plug my own numbers into the equation to calculate my own risk.

Read more at Community Catalyst.