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Thursday 22 September 2016

Statins Benefits Underestimated

Credit:The Atlantic

Less pain more gain

A major review indicates that the drug statins which is a cholesterol reducing drug has benefits which are underestimated and exaggerated harmful effects. As published in the Lancet and supported by many other health organizations, it suggests that with the help of statins the risk of stroke and heart attacks are lowered. The tests also indicate side effects such as muscle pain in a few people. However critics believe that unnecessary medication is taken by people who are healthy.

Dummy drug effect

The accumulation of fatty plaques which are responsible for the blockages in the blood vessels can be reduced by statins. According to the researchers:

  • In the UK nearly 6 million patients at present are using statins. 
  • Out of those recorded, around 2 million are using them since they have had a heart attack already, stroke or other cardiovascular incident. 
  • The 4 million left behind are taking them due to risky reasons like diabetes, age and blood pressure. 
  • An estimate 2 million more should be taking statins.
The research was led at the University of Oxford by Professor Rory Collins from the Clinical Trial Service. He led the lancet review which looked at the ready made proof for the effects of taking an average dose of 40mg daily of statins over five years in ten thousand patients. It showed that the levels of cholesterol could be reduced well enough to avoid thousand major cardiovascular incidents like strokes, heart attacks and coronary artery bypass to name a few in patients who had existing vascular disease- and five hundred in patients who were in jeopardy because of factors like age or other illness such as diabetes or increase blood pressure.

'It's better than the risk of a heart attack'

Stephen Sangster who is 34 years of age, lives with his wife and two children in Orpington. He explains why he uses the drug. He mentions that he has been taking the statins for approximately 3 months. With the help of a work health assessment he picked up that his cholesterol was high and changes in diet made no effect.

With his father passing away at a young age last year due to a heart attack, statins gave him comfort that they would possibly give him a life much longer. So he could live with a less chance of side effects. To this point he has only experienced little dizziness and he is not aware if it could be related to the drug, but it is better than being at a risk of having a heart attack. Before taking statins his cholesterol was 9.3 and after a month it went back down to less than four.

Cholesterol is an unseen threat. It is not a complex test. Many people should be motivated to take it. He is curious of how many people from the younger generation would benefit from statins, but are not aware that they have a condition.

The review also stated that there were indiscriminate controlled trials- where in neither doctor nor did the patient know who was administered with the dummy and who was on the real drug- indicated the normal amount of dose led to a comparatively low amount of side effects. In the unchanged ten thousand population, it said that there would be some side effects, together with between fifty and a hundred cases of severe effects like muscle pain to name a few. Observational tests had higher rates where people are aware that they would be taking the drug and are also told of the known side effects like muscle pain.

Question marks

Professor Collins says that the review depicts that the number of people are much larger who dodge heart attacks and strokes by using statins than the actual number of people who have side effects due to it. Besides, whereas maximum of the side effects can be retreated with no remaining effects by inhibiting the statin, the effect of a stroke or a heart attack not being avoided are not reversible and can be distressing. Subsequently, there is a sombre cost to public health from stating misleading titles about high rates of side effects that incongruously discourage people from opting for statin therapy regardless of the benefits which are now proven.

The British Heart Foundation and the Royal College of GPs (also known as RCGP) are a few of the major organizations that support the report. Chairperson of RCGP, Dr Maureen Baker said that they hope this study gives assurance to the patients that in most of the cases statins are harmless and an operational drug. However, in most cases seen where the side effects are severe, these can be reversed by inhibiting the use of statins.

From the medicines and healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Dr June Raine says that the advantages of statins are well recognized and are ought to prevail over the risk of causing side effects in most of the patients. Any latest important information on the effectiveness or security that use of statins will be cautiously reviewed and if need arises action will be taken. On the other hand, critics believe that the review was not the last word regarding statins.

Editor of the British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee said that this as of yet does not state the calls for a complete, autonomous review of the proof confirmation of statins. This in particular is important in the understanding of the assistance which vouch for large numbers of health people should take one dose of the tablet on a daily basis.

Dr Assem Malhotra, a cardiologist from London mentions that there are stern question marks based on the dependability of studies sponsored by industries on the side effects of the drug, and for all its intents and purposes that is exactly what the review is.

There are a lot of researchers and scientist who have taken part in the original studies and were also a part of the review. As a result it is known that the review alone is not an independent one. The pros and cons lie for the drug and yet further tests can be made. Soon there would be no side effects if possible.

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