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More evidence links higher cholesterol with improved immunity

While we are frequently warned about the perils of cholesterol, there exists quite a bit of evidence which links higher cholesterol levels with improved health outcomes and/or longevity in the elderly. These studies do not prove that cholesterol is conferringbenefit here (only that higher cholesterol is associated with improved outcomes). Nevertheless, it’s perhaps worth at […]

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Why do some doctors prescribe cholesterol-reducing medication for which there is zero evidence of benefit?

In 2002 the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the US licensed the cholesterol-lowering drug ezetimibe (Zetia). This medication reduces ‘unhealthy’ LDL-cholesterol levels by about 20 per cent. The assumption here is that this will reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. When ezetimibe was licensed, all of a sudden doctors had a new […]

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Cardiologist urges doctors to take patients’ wishes more into consideration

Initiatives in both the US and the UK look set to vastly increase the number of people deemed eligible for treatment with statins. While some seem to have welcomed these moves, there has been a lot of dissent too. Some believe that statins already have an unfavourable risk/benefit profile for people judged to be at […]

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If statins are so safe, why won’t some researchers let us see their data?

A couple of weeks ago one of my blog posts focused on a news story regarding the safety of statins. We were informed that ‘new evidence’  had found, except in rare circumstances, statins are no more hazardous than placebos. Yet, when one pays to get access to the actual paper on which these ‘conclusions’ were […]

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Researchers pronouncing ‘statins are safe’ are undermined by their own observations

Listen to most ‘key opinion leaders’ talk about statins and you will hear soothing reassurances about their safety. Yet, my experience as a doctor suggests that adverse effects such as fatigue and muscle pain occur more commonly than ‘official statistics’ suggest. However, a study published this week claims to provide evidence that, for the most part, […]

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How good is the tool doctors use to predict who should be treated with statins?

Recently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK published a consultation document in which it suggests that the threshold for treating people with statins should be lowered. Currently, doctors are advised to consider treatment for individuals who are calculated to have 20 per cent or more risk of developing cardiovascular disease […]

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Article highlights the importance of ‘shared decision making’ when statins are being considered

On both sides of the Atlantic moves are afoot which will mean that many more individuals will be considered as good candidates for statin therapy. This will inevitably mean that more individuals are going to have the prospect of statin therapy raised by their doctors. In this situation, doctors can talk about ‘guidelines’ and ‘protocols’, […]

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It’s about time some people were straight with the statistics on statins

Yesterday, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published draft proposals concerning the use of statins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Previously, NICE advised doctors to recommend treatment in those with a calculated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease of 20 per cent or more. Now, NICE is proposing that this threshold will […]

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Is the editor of the BMJ suffering from statin-induced amnesia?

The ‘Cochrane Collaboration’ is an international collective of researchers whose self-proclaimed role is to provide accurate and robust assessments of health interventions. The group specialises in ‘meta-analyses’: the grouping together of several similar studies on interventions including drug therapies. In 2011, Cochrane researchers assessed the evidence relating to statin use in individuals at low risk […]

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Statins associated with increased risk of death in those with heart failure

From a purely physiological perspective, the heart is essentially a bag of muscle that pumps blood around the body. In certain circumstances, the heart’s pumping action can weaken, ultimately resulting in what is usually termed ‘heart failure’. Symptoms of this can include fatigue, breathlessness and fluid retention. I was interested in a study recently published […]

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