An experienced medical doctor/surgeon recently wrote that his doctor is attempting to ‘push a statin on to me’ and this reminded the writer of the recent posts on the polypill and overprescribing of blood-pressure medication.
Professor Sir Rory Collins is co-director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit at Oxford University where research is generously funded by pharmaceutical giant Merck.
He insists that statins should be given to all over-50s, because they cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes in later life. He led the world’s largest study to investigate statins in the prevention of cardiovascular disease which proved that cutting levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the blood saved lives.
Currently statins are given to eight million high-risk patients, who have high cholesterol or are at risk of heart disease.
Official guidance on the drugs from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency warns of symptoms including sleep disturbances, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, depression and lung disease. The medication has also been linked to the risk of cataracts and diabetes, and this year the American FDA changed its list of side effects to include memory loss and confusion.
Professor Collins disagrees, pointing out trial data which showed only one significant side effect, myopathy or muscle pain, affecting one in 10,000 patients.
Over-50s, are you ready to take his advice?