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Posted November 13, 2013: by Bill Sardi
Nov. 12, 2013- Out with monitoring cholesterol numbers. In what is being called a “tectonic shift in the way doctors treat high cholesterol,” the American Heart Association unexpectedly announced new guidelines today for prescribing statins drugs.
Without admission that older guidelines were a misdirection, the new guidelines abandon the idea of lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol to below 100 and re-set that number at 190. No mention is made about raising HDL “good” cholesterol, which cardiologists also once embraced till a major study had to be halted when elevation of HDL cholesterol resulted in increased deaths.
Cardiologists hope to get it right this time saying subjects who don’t fit the newly established guidelines should be encouraged to implement lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation along with dietary and exercise regimens.
Under the new guidelines, regardless of one’s cholesterol numbers, if adults have been diagnosed with diabetes or have a 10-year risk of a heart attack greater than 7.5%, cholesterol-lowering statins are in order.
These new rules of thumb will expand the number of candidates for statin drugs from 35 to 72 million Americans.
It is difficult to fathom why these drugs were ever approved by the Food & Drug Administration in the first place as they have not been conclusively shown to reduce coronary artery disease mortality rates.
While cardiologists often sternly advise patients they need to take statin drugs or they will die of a heart attack, there is little evidence for that claim. Among healthy adults, statin drugs avert 1 non-mortal heart attack among 200 users, and among high-risk adults, 1 non-mortal heart attack among 70 users over a 5-year period.
The new guidelines are based largely upon two recently published meta-analyses, with no new science to report. The new guidelines never mention NNT (the number needed to treat to prevent a mortal or non-mortal heart attacks) and only vaguely refers to reduced mortality rates for statin users.
One of the recently published studies used to justify establishment of the new guidelines states that “of 1000 people treated with a statin for five years, 18 would avoid a major cardiovascular disease event (mortal and non-mortal heart attack, stroke).” That’s 3.6 patients out of 1000 that would benefit in a year.
Statin drugs interfere with the natural ability of the liver to produce cholesterol, a circulating blood fat that transports protective antioxidants, controls mood and facilitates the production of sex hormones.
While the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration produced one of the meta-analyses of existing statin drug studies, a reviewer for the Cochrane group said just two years ago that “considerable uncertainties remain in the evidence for primary prevention of heart disease,” meaning prevention among healthy Americans.
While the newly issued AHA guidelines include lifestyle modifications, Carl Heneghan, Director Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine & Clinical Reader, Dept. of Primary Health Care, University of Oxford, said counseling and education do not reduce risk for heart disease, even though these measures were included in the new guidelines.
Furthermore, reviewer Heneghan said: “statins should be used as part of the management strategy for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease for adults who have a 20% or greater 10-year risk of developing CVD.” But inexplicably, the new guidelines set establish a much lower risk point, 7.5% increased risk over a 10-year period, to begin statin drugs.
Dr. Jeremy L. Menage of Warwick, England, says: “The idea of putting millions more healthy people on long term statin therapy in an attempt to prevent some people from dying of heart disease is analogous to locking up all young men in order to reduce the crime figures. It might have some merit were there any good evidence that statins prevent healthy people from dying prematurely: but there is not.” Maybe that is why the AHA published the new guidelines, to get off the statin drug hot seat.
The God-awful side of statin drugs is not completely hidden. Two doctors in Ireland throw scientific barbs in their report entitled “The Ugly Side Of Statins” published at the Dark Pharma website.
Doctors Sherif Sultan and Niamh Hynes note “there is ample evidence to show that statins actually augment (increase) cardiovascular risk in women, patients with Diabetes Mellitus and in the young. Furthermore statins are associated with triple the risk of coronary artery and aortic artery calcification.” (The aorta is the first blood vessel outside the heart.)
That is pretty damning criticism. And Drs. Sultan and Hynes don’t stop there. According to studies they cite, the wholesale use of statin drugs among 72 million Americans over 10-years would result in 2,104,000 additional cases of blinding cataracts; 165,600 additional cases of kidney failure (some obviously requiring kidney transplantation); and 532,800 added cases of liver dysfunction. These represent disease substitution, not disease prevention.
They say, “…even when aware of these complications there has been hesitation in putting statins off the market.”
They end their pointedly anti-statin report by saying: “Statins are associated with triple the risk of coronary artery and aortic calcification. These findings on statin major adverse effects have been under-reported and the way in which they were withheld from the public, and even concealed, is a scientific farce.”
In the early 1990s it was Dr. Serge Renaud, a French cardiologist, who first documented that heart disease is not remedied by reduction of cholesterol but rather by prevention of blood clots and widening (dilatation) of coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygenated blood, both which are facilitated by consumption of red wine. Dr. Renaud’s reported the French had far higher circulating cholesterol levels than North Americans but exhibited a 260% reduced risk for dying from coronary artery disease (90 per 100,000 vs. 240 per 100,000) compared to the wine-drinking French. In with red wine pills, out with statin drugs. ©2013 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
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