nb_cid nb_clickOther -tt-nb this.style.behavior='url(#default#homepage)';this.setHomePage('http://www.aol.com/?mtmhp=txtlnkusaolp00000051 network-banner-empty mtmhpBanner
14
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
Video
Video
AOL Favorites
Favorites
Menu

Half of US adults 40 to 75 eligible for statins

pills
Almost half of Americans ages 40 to 75 and nearly all men over 60 qualify to consider cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new heart disease prevention guidelines, an analysis concludes.

It's the first independent look at the impact of the guidelines issued in November and shows how dramatically they shift more people toward treatment. Supporters say they reveal the true scope of heart risks in America. Critics have said the guidelines overreach by suggesting medications such as Zocor and Lipitor for such a broad swath of the population.

"We wanted to be really objective and just quantify what the guidelines do, and not get into a discussion about whether they are correct," said Michael Pencina, the Duke University biostatistician who led the analysis. It was published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Under the new guidelines, 56 million Americans ages 40 to 75 are eligible to consider a statin; 43 million were under the old advice. Both numbers include 25 million people taking statins now.

"That is striking ... eye-opening," Dr. Daniel Rader of the University of Pennsylvania said of the new estimate.

But since too few people use statins now, the advice "has the potential to do much more good than harm," said Rader, a cardiologist who had no role in writing the guidelines.

Nearly half a million additional heart attacks and strokes could be prevented over 10 years if statin use was expanded as the guidelines recommend, the study estimates.

The guidelines, developed by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology at the request of the federal government, were a big change. They give a new formula for estimating risk that includes blood pressure, smoking status and many factors besides the level of LDL or "bad" cholesterol, the main focus in the past.

For the first time, the guidelines are personalized for men and women and blacks and whites, and they take aim at strokes, not just heart attacks. Partly because of that, they set a lower threshold for using statins to reduce risk.

The guidelines say statins do the most good for people who already have heart disease, those with very high LDL of 190 or more, and people over 40 with Type 2 diabetes.

They also recommend considering statins for anyone 40 to 75 who has an estimated 10-year risk of heart disease of 7.5 percent or higher, based on the new formula. (This means that for every 100 people with a similar risk profile, seven or eight would have a heart attack or stroke within 10 years.)

Under this more nuanced approach, many people who previously would not have qualified for a statin based on LDL alone now would, while others with a somewhat high LDL but no other heart risk factors would not.

The Duke researchers gauged the impact of these changes by using cholesterol, weight and other measurements from health surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They looked at how nearly 4,000 people in these surveys would have been classified under the new and old guidelines, and projected the results to the whole country.

The biggest effect was on people 60 and older, researchers found. Under the new guidelines, 87 percent of such men not already taking a statin are eligible to consider one; only 30 percent were under the old guidelines. For women, the numbers are 54 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Dr. Paul Ridker and Nancy Cook of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have criticized the risk formula in the guidelines. Ridker declined to be interviewed, but in a statement, he and Cook noted that most people newly suggested for statins do not have high cholesterol but smoke or have high blood pressure. Those problems and lifestyle changes should be addressed before trying medications - which the guidelines recommend - they write.

Dr. Neil Stone, the Northwestern University doctor who helped lead the guidelines work, stressed that the guidelines just say who should consider a statin, and they recommend people discuss that carefully with a doctor.

"We think we're focusing the attention for statins on those who would benefit the most," Stone said.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University cardiologist who has long advocated this approach, agreed.

"The guidelines provide a recommendation, not a mandate" for statin use, he said.

Pencina, the leader of the Duke study, said his own situation motivated him to look at the guidelines more closely. His LDL was nearing a threshold to consider a statin under the old guidelines, but under the new formula for gauging risk, "I'm fine," he said.

Join the discussion

1000|Characters 1000  Characters
peaborilla March 20 2014 at 6:57 PM

QUIT TAKING THE CRAP AFTER A YEAR OF FEELING DEAD. AND IT TOOK A YEAR NOW TO GET BACK TO NORMAL HAD ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE NOW BACK TO BUILDING HOUSES AND DOING WHAT I USE TO

Flag Reply +12 rate up
1 reply
Judith peaborilla March 20 2014 at 10:18 PM

You're lucky - with statin side effects, once you stop taking that poison it's often a 3:1 ratio before getting back to normal, i.e., 1 year on statins, 3 years to get back to normal.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
finnrico March 20 2014 at 5:59 PM

I've been on both Zorcor and Lipitor as well as Zedita and several other statin drugs and had the worse side effects you can imagine. There's even a chat board for the side effects of Zorcor and there are thousands of comments from people that have been effected by the horrible side effects of these statin drugs. These side effects are very dangerous.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
GARY finnrico March 20 2014 at 6:06 PM

I'm with you on this one..They keep telling me now to try 1/2 of a 10mg tab per week for two weeks then after that got to a full tab for two more weeks and then daily. After the first week nothing but muscle aches and pain. They look at me like I'm crazy.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Cplhott March 20 2014 at 5:57 PM

This is just the drug makers looking to push their pills and make millions more in profits. It has nothing to do with so called health risk!!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
The Queen! March 20 2014 at 5:36 PM

How about an emphasis on prevention and healthy living? This is disturbing.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
elkhartbiker March 20 2014 at 5:28 PM

I'm convinced this big push to get people on cholesterol-lowering statins over the past 20 years has been one gigantic hoax perpetrated on America (via the medical profession) by the almighty drug companies. I guess big Pharma wasn't making enough money so now they're hitting us with another advertising (again led by doctors) blitz to buy their product. I've read studies where there is little or no tie between heart disease and cholestrol.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
napa422 March 20 2014 at 5:25 PM

STATIN drugs are scary... THEY CAUSE YOU TO FALL.... YOUR MUSCLES TURN TO MUSH...IT HAPPRNRD TO MY BROTHER AND ME..THEY CAUSE STROKE LIKE SYMPTOMS.. PUT ME IN THE HOSPITAL FOR THREE MONTHS.. IM STILL NOT ABLE TO BE INDEPENDENT AFTER ONE MONTH OF THERAPY.. MY BROTHER AND I WERE TAKING STATIN DRUGS FOR A LONG TIME. HE DIED AND I AM NOW WITH A WHEEL CHAIR AND WALKER. DOCTORS KEEP PUSHING THESE DANGEROUS DRUGS... WHY????? napa422

Flag Reply +4 rate up
freebird12315 March 20 2014 at 4:46 PM

LESS DRUGS YOU TAKE BETTER OFF YOU ARE. I SEEN WHAT ALL THIS STUFF DID TO MY MOTHER. LETS JUST SAY WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO HELP HER KILLED HER IN THE END. I'LL TAKE MY CHANCHES. ITS IN GODS HANDS.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
happy2bgridfree March 20 2014 at 4:42 PM

Yeah ... and a few years ago, big pharma was advising ALL women to go on HRT, whether they had severe menopausal symptoms or not. "HRT prevents heart disease, delays aging and keeps hot flashes at bay."

I'm sorry, but unless you have a severely elevated "bad" cholesterol level, you should NOT be taking statins.

I saw the effect on my mother. She was put on statins when she was "borderline" type 2 Diabetes. It effected her memory, her balance and brought on depression.

Modify your diet and IF that does not work and IF your cholesterol is definitively high, then try statins. Otherwise, I would not let any doctor talk me into taking them. Period.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
gcup March 20 2014 at 4:28 PM

My wife and I were perscribed Statins a few years ago with the promise that if we took CoQ10 there would be no problem. Well, they really hurt my wife and she has never fully recovered. They hurt me also, but I have recovered better than she did. Once we figured out what was happening we stopped taking the crap. I felt better within a week, but it took months to get back to near normal. My wife also improved within two weeks, but never regained the indurance she had before taking the stuff. They caused muscle pain in legs, lower back, and my arms. They also caused fatigue and lack of indurance. I got so I was walking all stooped over. That stopped in a few weeks after I quit taking the stuff. I was told by my insurance company that about 9% of people trying to take Statins have such a bad reaction and also you should not take Statins with a compromised immune system.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
safealbq gcup March 20 2014 at 4:50 PM

I have been put on every colesteral with statin and was almost in a wheel chair before I realized what was the cause. i have been off statin for two years now and have now major problems that i am told may never get better. leg that causes me to use a cane all of the time.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dadair3015 March 20 2014 at 5:59 PM

Does this mean that thousands of 'scripts' will be written and thousands of dollars will be paid to
Drs. & PA's via commissions from drug companies. Perhaps this will make up for the dollars lost in the medicare payment shuffle.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
aol~~ 1209600

Voting...

1414685773341

World Series

More From Our Partners