Tuesday, November 19, 2013

All those Americans Who Should Now Take Statins After the Medical Professions Re-Examined the Issue

Never Mind

America's unending march towards prescription drug madness suffered a setback as it turns out the method by which doctors are supposed to determine who should go on statins is terribly flawed.

Mark Graham for The New York Times
Dr. Nancy Cook and Dr. Paul M. Ridker of
 Harvard Medical School found that a new 
online calculator used to assess heart 
treatment options overestimated the risks
 that many people face.

Last week, the nation’s leading heart organizations released a sweeping new set of guidelines for lowering cholesterol, along with an online calculator meant to help doctors assess risks and treatment options. But, in a major embarrassment to the health groups, the calculator appears to greatly overestimate risk, so much so that it could mistakenly suggest that millions more people are candidates for statin drugs.

So what to do now, oh, maybe this.

The apparent problem prompted one leading cardiologist, a past president of the American College of Cardiology, to call on Sunday for a halt to the implementation of the new guidelines.

“It’s stunning,” said the cardiologist, Dr. Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “We need a pause to further evaluate this approach before it is implemented on a widespread basis.”

Well, that is partially right.  What is also flawed is the American approach to medicine, the dependency on prescription drugs to correct a bad lifestyle and the interdependence between profit maximizing drug companies and the medical profession that prescribes their usage.

And yes, the problem is not news, it was known over a year ago. It's just that the medical research activity in this area was too incompetent to understand the problem, to know about the problem or to even suspect the problem or to even solve the problem after they were told about it.  (Yeah, these are the people who have tremendous influence on your health care decisions, what a great bunch.).

The problems were identified by two Harvard Medical School professors whose findings will be published Tuesday in a commentary in The Lancet, a major medical journal. The professors, Dr. Paul M. Ridker and Dr. Nancy Cook, had pointed out the problems a year earlier when the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which originally was developing the guidelines, sent a draft to each professor independently to review. Both reported back that the calculator was not working among the populations it was tested on by the guideline makers.

That was unfortunate because the committee thought the researchers had been given the professors’ responses, said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, co-chairman of the guidelines task force and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University.

Drs. Ridker and Cook saw the final guidelines and risk calculator on Tuesday at 4 p.m., when a news embargo was lifted, and saw that the problems remained.

Hey, it’s not like this is brain surgery. This is not rocket science It’s only heart surgery.  Everybody feel good about taking their doctor’s recommendations now?

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