A new study found that veterans over the age of 74 were less likely to die when they took statins. Good news…until you dig deeper.
The study attempted to discern whether persons 75 years and older who have never had a heart event actually got a benefit from being on a statin drug. Not enough older individuals had been enrolled in previous statin trials to know for sure, which had made the cholesterol management guidelines wishy-washy on the subject.
So the team of researchers looked at data from more than 300,000 seventy-five plus-year-old veterans with healthy hearts of which 57,000 were prescribed a statin. Over an average follow up of nearly 7 years, those that were on the drugs had a 25% lower risk of death from any cause and a 20% lower risk of heart-related death. You can bet these results will push more doctors to prescribe more statins.
But guess what they didn’t evaluate? No one bothered to see whether eating healthier or getting more exercise lessened the risk of death. And no one mentioned whether the veterans on statins experienced negative side effects.
I’ve never believed that a drug should be the first step in preventing disease. Medications have a role but why not try proven health improving and life-extending techniques that don’t cost anything and don’t carry side effects first? As you probably know, this is exactly why I started Step One Foods.
After all, just look at populations who tend to live well into ripe, old age. Guess what they have in common? Nope, not statin prescriptions. Good diets.
A major note of caution. The population evaluated in this study DID NOT have known heart disease. Anyone with a history of heart attack, stent, bypass surgery, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, or other indicators of atherosclerosis SHOULD be on statins – regardless of age.
Nevertheless, a lot of people without those underlying health issues are routinely prescribed statin drugs. Is that always a really good idea? I’ll be back next week with advice on having the statin talk with your provider.