How many of you guys take statins?
How many of you know someone who takes statins?
How many of you have high cholesterol?
Cool. Glad we got that headcount out of the way. My dad takes statins, so this is super relevant to me cause he’s pretty tight and I like him hangin’ around to make my unborn children gluttonous and such.
Statins are drugs that improve cholesterol levels in attempts to keep your blood vessels unclogged, thus keeping you alive and other cool things like that.
Scientists in Liverpool discovered last month that these awesome pillz (taken by over 7 million people in Britain alone) save around 750 lives per year by preventing fatal heart attacks and strokes.
Sounds awesome, right? But, did anyone ever think to compare this number to how many lives per year other health interventions for heart attacks and strokes? These cool researchers did.
In Britain, health interventions such as: improving diet (lowering salt intake, lowering fat intake, lowering carb intake) and increasing activity levels prevented 4,600 deaths by fatal heart attack or stroke per year.
Dude. Seriously? Expensive drugs prevent 750 and eating healthy and exercising prevented 4,600??
Don’t get me wrong — clinical cardiology is friggin’ amazing and does some top notch work saving lives. But, shouldn’t we be investing more time and energy in more cost-effective treatments based on scientific evidence?
Our health care system is already under a ton of stress, and the answer to relieve that stress is slapping us across the face! Population wide health changes (think tax on sugary drinks, subsidies making healthier foods more affordable, increasing physical activity in schools and the workplace, controlling tobacco, restricting processed food companies, making infrastructure and the built environment more accommodating to a healthy lifestyle, etc etc etc)would reduce health inequalities, relieve that pressure on the system, and maybe even lead to much bigger overall health gains!
Sorry for that off topic public health rant. This is my blog and apparently I do what I want, including bore you guys to death. Moving on…
Does this mean that statins don’t work? NO.
So why is the number so low?
Well, I’d guess a big part of that is that many people who are eligible for statins cannot take that (maybe they can’t afford them or don’t have adequate understanding or access).
On the other hand, going for a walk or eating less processed food is more affordable and accessible to everyone. (Granted, not all health interventions sans drugs are.)
Anywho, this research basically proved that preventative approaches are a much better way to achieve results and save lives than handing out drugs. Cause right now, cardiologists and PCPs are pretty much like Oprah on a sugar-high. (“You get a statin! You get a statin! Everybody gets a statin!!”)
Wow I hope one of you gets that joke.
Tl;DR? More and more research proves that eating healthy and exercising regularly prevents death from heart attack or stroke better than statin drugs do. Tell your friends with high cholesterol!
Don’t leave your life in the hands of a drug, save it yourself.