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
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
of Cardiology, to call on Sunday
for a halt to the implementation of the new guidelines. American College
“It’s stunning,” said the cardiologist, Dr. Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the
Clinic. “We need a pause to further evaluate this approach before it is
implemented on a widespread basis.” Cleveland
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
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. Harvard
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?