Marshall Sutherland
  
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:51:39 -0400
Statins For Everyone! (again)
Statins For Everyone! (again)

I’ll turn 59 in November. That means in just 15 months, I should start taking a statin. That’s the conclusion of a new study reported in the U.K. Independent online:
Almost every older person should be taking statins, a new study has found. Almost all men over 60 and women over 75 should be taking the drugs, the research found. And more than a third of people between 30 and 84 should be allowed to do so.

Sure, let’s put all older people on statins. Society would really benefit by having more older folks with memory problems and damaged muscles.
The sweeping findings could suggest that GPs will be asked to prescribe the drugs to the majority of their patients, leading to huge strain on doctors.

That was, of course, my first concern as well. Oh my goodness! If we start giving statins to all older people, won’t that be a strain on doctors?!
The research looked to investigate the effects of guidance that was set by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in 2014. That controversial ruling allowed many more people to receive statin therapy on the NHS, since it suggested that anyone with cardiovascular disease should be given the drug, and anyone with a more than 10 per cent chance of developing it in the next 10 years should take it too.

The latest study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, examined the algorithm endorsed by Nice for the assessment of CVD risk and compared it to data from the 2011 Health Survey for England to estimate the number of people who are eligible for statin therapy under the guidance.

Let me explain how that algorithm works: if you’re a male older than 60 or a woman older than 75 and still have a pulse, statistics say there’s a decent chance you may have a heart attack at some point in the future, so the algorithm says you should be on statins. The actual health of your heart doesn’t figure into it much.

Last month, I admitted that I’m a member of the anti-statin cult that Dr. Steve Nissen (America’s Statinator-In-Chief) blames for scaring people away from these wunnerful, wunnerful, life-saving drugs. So you won’t be surprised that I’m under orders from the cult leaders to explain why guidelines that would put nearly all older people on statins are complete nonsense. (I’m also under orders to smack myself in the head with my t-post hammer if the post doesn’t draw at least a thousand views, but I’m negotiating on that one.)

Advertisements for statins throw out impressive-sounding claims, such as reduces the risk of heart attack by 33 percent! If you didn’t know any better, you’d think a third of the people taking statins are saving themselves from a heart attack.

But of course, that’s not the case. That figure is derived from results like this: in a statin trial lasting some number of years, two of every 100 patients with known heart disease who took the statins had a heart attack, while three of every 100 patients with known heart disease who took a placebo had a heart attack. Two is one-third less than three, so the relative reduction is 33 percent.

But in absolute terms, it means for every 100 patients who took the drug, one was saved from a heart attack. So the number needed to treat (NNT) is 100. That’s the figure that matters.

There’s a site called The NNT that provides exactly those kinds of figures. Here’s what it says on the home page:
We are a group of physicians that have developed a framework and rating system to evaluate therapies based on their patient-important benefits and harms as well as a system to evaluate diagnostics by patient sign, symptom, lab test or study.

We only use the highest quality, evidence-based studies (frequently, but not always Cochrane Reviews), and we accept no outside funding or advertisements.

The b.s. guidelines suggested by the new study say almost everyone over a certain age should be on statins, whether they actually have heart disease or not. Here’s what The NNT tells us about statin trials conducted on people who don’t already have heart disease:

Benefits:
None were helped (life saved)
1 in 104 were helped (preventing heart attack)

Compare the statin groups to the placebo groups, and the combined results say not a single death was prevented by the statins. The statins prevented an average of one non-fatal heart attack for every 104 people who took them for five years.

Wowzers. Doesn’t that make you want to run out and fill that statin prescription as soon as you turn 60?

But wait, let’s not forget to look at the other side of the equation:

Harms:
1 in 50 were harmed (develop diabetes)
1 in 10 were harmed (muscle damage)

And keep in mind, these figures are mostly from studies published by the makers of statin drugs. In other words, they’re the most positive studies. We don’t know how many studies conducted by Big Pharma were simply dumped because the results were less-than-positive. Here’s what the gang at The NNT says on the subject:
Virtually all of the major statin studies were paid for and conducted by their respective pharmaceutical company. A long history of misrepresentation of data and occasionally fraudulent reporting of data suggests that these results are often much more optimistic than subsequent data produced by researchers and parties that do not have a financial stake in the results.

The combined results of these mostly-positive studies say 10% of the people on statins suffered muscle damage. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) the figure in the real world is much higher. When Big Pharma conducts these studies, they screen out patients who report side effects from other drugs. So the population that goes into the study is less likely to experience side effects than the population at large.

But what the heck, let’s suppose the figure is actually the 10% reported in the studies instead of the 25% or greater I suspect we’d find in the real world. And let’s suppose you’re a man 60 or older, or a woman 75 or older, with no previous heart attacks or known heart disease. Let’s put you in a group of 100 of your peers and give you all statins. Here’s what would happen, according to the most positive data Big Pharma can produce:
  • One of you will be prevented from having a non-fatal heart attack, but none of you will be prevented from actually dying. (And preventing the one non-fatal heart attack will likely only apply to the men.)
  • Two or more of you will develop diabetes you wouldn’t otherwise have had (which increases the odds of heart disease or stroke down the line).
  • Ten or more of you will end up with damaged muscles, thus seriously reducing your quality of life.
I think we should ignore this latest edition of the Statins For Everyone! guidelines.

At least that’s what the cult leaders told me to say.

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Maria Karlsen
  
Oh wow...
Where's the common sense?
Marshall Sutherland
  
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Thu, 14 Jan 2016 20:31:37 -0500
More VERY Bad News For Statins
More VERY Bad News For Statins

I’ve written several posts with a variation on the title Bad News For Statins. Those have mostly pointed out the nasty side effects of statins. Doctors who push statins usually dismiss those side effects as a small price to avoid a heart attack – which they insist statins help us do.

But what if statins actually harm our hearts instead of protecting them? That’s what new research says they do. Let’s start by looking at some quotes from an article in the U.K. Express:

People taking the drugs are more likely to suffer from hardening of the arteries, a leading cause of heart problems. In addition, researchers found the drugs block a process that protects the heart. This can “cause, or worsen, heart failure”, according to a study.

Dr Okuyama, of Nagoya City University, Japan, said: “We have collected a wealth of information on cholesterol and statins from many published papers and find overwhelming evidence that these drugs accelerate hardening of the arteries and can cause, or worsen, heart failure. I cannot find any evidence to support people taking statins and patients who are on them should stop.”


But wait … haven’t there been big ol’ studies demonstrating that statins prevent heart attacks? Well, yes, there were some of those — conducted and reported many years ago by the statin-makers. The current study’s lead researcher believes that was a wee bit of a problem:

Dr Okuyama and his team say many earlier industry-sponsored studies, which show the benefits of statins, are unreliable. They claim this is because they were carried out before new European regulations were introduced in 2004 which insisted on all trial findings, both negative and positive, being declared.

The study states that before these new rules came into effect “unfair and unethical problems were associated with clinical trials reported by industry-supported scientists”.

Dr Okuyama’s team looked at studies before and after 2004.


So they compared both old and new studies, since statin-makers are no longer allowed to just bury the results they don’t like. Here’s what Dr. Okuyama’s group concluded in their analysis:

The researchers say the hypothesis that statins protect the heart by lowering cholesterol is flawed and that high cholesterol is not necessarily linked to heart disease.

They also found statins have a negative effect on vital body processes linked to heart health.

They discovered patients taking the drugs were more likely to have calcium deposits in their arteries, a phenomenon directly linked to heart attacks.

Dr Peter Langsjoen, a heart specialist based in Texas who is co-author of the study, said: “Statins are being used so aggressively and in such large numbers of people that the adverse effects are now becoming obvious. These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.”


Meanwhile, the American Heart Association is (of course) still pushing new guidelines that would make even more people eligible for statins. Here are some quotes from a Medscape article I linked in a post about those guidelines back in 2014:

The new American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol would increase the number of individuals eligible for statin therapy by nearly 13 million people, an increase that is largely driven by older patients and treating individuals without cardiovascular disease, according to a new analysis.

Among older adults, those aged 60 to 75 years old, 87.4% of men would now be eligible for the lipid-lowering medication, which is up from one-third under the old Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III guidelines. For women of the same age, the percentage of those now eligible for statins would increase from 21.2% under ATP III to 53.6% with the new 2013 clinical guidelines.


So those guidelines would double the number of women over 60 taking statins and nearly triple the number of men in the same age group. Yup, just what the old folks need: more muscle and joint problems, higher blood sugar, and (if the new study is correct), accelerated hardening of their arteries. Way to go, American Heart Association.

A reader who sent me the link to the U.K. Express article commented in his email, Even after being destroyed with factual information, The Anointed reject what’s best and continue their destructive ways. Just what will make these people change their minds?

The answer is: nothing. Remember, part of what makes them The Anointed is the inability to believe they’re ever wrong. A couple of them are quoted, in fact, in the Express article:

A spokesman for the MHRA, the Government drug regulator, said: “The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients. Any new significant information on the efficacy of statins will be carefully reviewed and action be taken if required”.


Translation: we’ll pretend this study doesn’t exist and go on our merry, statin-pushing way.

Oxford professor Sir Rory Collins has warned that overstating concerns about statins could “cause very large numbers of unnecessary deaths from heart attacks and stroke”.


Oh, I don’t think it’s necessary for us to overstate the concerns about statins, Sir Rory. Merely pointing out the facts should convince intelligent people to stop taking these horrible drugs. Then they’ll avoid very large numbers of unnecessary cases of diabetes, liver damage, muscle damage, joint damage, and memory loss.

I dug up the abstract of the study, and for once, there was a link to a free copy of the full text online. Lots of good stuff in there, but I’ll just quote the paragraphs that wrap it all up:

Pharmacological evidence and clinical trial results support the interpretation that statins stimulate atherogenesis by suppressing vitamin K2 synthesis and thereby enhancing artery calcification. Statins cause heart failure by depleting the myocardium of CoQ10, ‘heme A’ and selenoproteins, thereby impairing mitochondrial ATP production. In summary, statins are not only ineffective in preventing CHD events but instead are capable of increasing CHD and heart failure.

Physicians who are involved in prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications cannot ignore the moral responsibility of ‘informed consent’. Patients must be informed of all statin adverse effects, including the ability to cause CHD and heart failure, onset of diabetes mellitus, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity and central and peripheral nervous disorders besides the well-known rhabdomyolysis and hepatic injury. Most of these adverse effects of statins become apparent after 6 or more years of statin therapy. Chronic administration could ultimately lead to these statin adverse effects as pharmaceutical and biochemical research has now demonstrated.


I’d suggest you give the study a look. Better yet, send it to your statin-taking friends and relatives. You might just save them a world of hurt.

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