Cholesterol Meds and Diabetes

I consider the benefits of most medications used to lower cholesterol (called “statin medications”) to be modest at best in those without known heart disease (called “primary prevention”). These medications lower heart attack death risk by less than 2%. To put this in perspective, having optimal thyroid levels, even when normal, is associated with a 69% lower risk of heart attack death. Even owning a cat is associated with a 30% lower risk. Despite these minimal benefits, the relatively high expense (costing the health care system over $12 billion a year), and the aggravating pain and fatigue that accompanies their use in some patients, they are being heavily pushed — even being heavily marketed to pediatricians now.

I consider the benefits of most medications used to lower cholesterol (called “statin medications”) to be modest at best in those without known heart disease (called “primary prevention”). These medications lower heart attack death risk by less than 2%. To put this in perspective, having optimal thyroid levels, even when normal, is associated with a 69% lower risk of heart attack death.  Even owning a cat is associated with a 30% lower risk.  Despite these minimal benefits, the relatively high expense (costing the health care system over $12 billion a year), and the aggravating pain and fatigue that accompanies their use in some patients, they are being heavily pushed — even being heavily marketed to pediatricians now.


I suspect this would not be happening if the medications were not so profitable, as controlling high blood pressure, decreasing excess sugar intake, exercising, stopping smoking and even eating fish are likely more heart protective than the medications — but simply less profitable.


Now a major new meta analysis using data from 13 clinical trials with 91,140 participants shows these medications are associated with a 9% increased risk of developing diabetes.


It is a good idea, of course, to follow your doctor’s advice. But it’s also OK to recognize that they are being targeted with massive amounts of drug company promotion, including conferences described by some as “advertisements masquerading as scientific activities.”

If you have a known heart problem, the benefits of these medications go way up. If not, it is OK to ask your doctor if improving diet,  avoiding sugar, exercising, eating oily fish (tuna and salmon 3-4x week) and stopping smoking may be more beneficial.

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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