How much longer will you live if you take a statin?

Reblogging this, posting it to my FB account, and printing out a copy for the doctor I work with who is convinced that statins are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

How much longer will you live if you take a statin?

About a year ago I submitted a paper to the BMJ entitled ‘Statins in secondary prevention, lives saved or lives extended.’ To be more accurate, I was the lead author of the paper. So I should say ‘we’ submitted a paper. I have to report that the paper was rejected, re-written and rejected again. In the end I couldn’t get it published.

The main aim of the paper was to point out that the most important reason why someone would take a ‘preventative medicine’ of any sort, was to increase their life expectancy. The question ‘how much longer will I live if I take this tablet for, say, five years?’ Seems a reasonable question to ask and, in turn, have answered. Interestingly no patient has ever asked me this question, so I have never…

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2 responses

  1. What a great article. It confirmed what I have suspected for some time. Unfortunately, it’s not going to change my prescribing habits (unless you include continuing to NOT prescribe statins for myself). The trouble is, you are boxed in on all sides by the Powers That Be who tell you that the standard of care is to prescribe statins. It takes a very brave or foolish person to step out of line, because you risk getting clobbered by the regulatory authorities, lawyers, media, relatives and patients themselves. I have kids to feed and a mortgage to pay, and those things take priority (most of the time) over standing up for principles.

    • Agreed. I do tell patients about the potential side effects – higher risk for diabetes (especially if female), hip fractures, dementia, muscle pain, fatigue, etc and some just choose not to take it. I document this in the chart. Informed consent. I also do this with most of the medications I prescribe for patients and discuss potential alternative remedies if they are open to that kind of thing. It takes me longer to document but I am a contract employee and I am not under compulsion to see a patient every 15 minutes or whatever. My usual visit is 20-30 min. But I also do all my own VS, treatments, setups, etc because we have no MA or other assist type staff.

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