These promising new treatments are for individuals whose LDL cholesterol levels or cardiovascular risk profiles are not adequately addressed with statins, as well as those who are statin-intolerant.
"Will it help me live longer?" When patients ponder the lifetime commitment to a statin drug, this is the question they ask. But a very public controversy in the scientific community has recently diverted attention from this central question -- and that just might be on purpose.
The recent retraction of an academic claim in a leading journal about the incidence of side effects from cholesterol-lowering drugs has sparked anger in the medical community and potentially undermined public and patient trust.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) recently released new cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines. They are an egregious example of much that is wrong with medicine today.
If it were truly clear exactly what criteria for statin use were best, there would be no controversy in the first place. There appear to be strengths and weaknesses to both sets of criteria, the old and the new.
Climate denial has rightly lead many to unilaterally embrace science as the last bastion of rational thought in an increasingly contentious world. But the question is: Whose science?
Whether we're talking about broad public health prescriptions or individual prescriptions, it's all a matter of benefit versus risk, and that requires a careful look at the evidence. Doctors and patients alike may find themselves understandably confused by changing guidelines and the uncertainty inherent in predicting the future.
The new cholesterol guidelines represent a sea change in that they no longer recommend patients shoot for a target cholesterol level. Instead, they recommend options based on an individual's risk of a heart attack or stroke.
All told, we have here an unsafe, unnecessary product that will now be recommended to healthy people to make them sicker, all when simple, health-fortifying lifestyle changes have been proven to be effective and globally transformative in ways no pill could ever hope to be.
We could blame it all on the food companies that make the junk food, and the technology companies that keep inventing more ways for us to be sedentary. But as noted, the enemy is both them and us.