Cost of drugsHow do you decide whether to take a drug to prevent disease? If you say, “when my doctor prescribes one“, I would commend you for a couple of things:

1. Going to you doctor for preventive medicine. (Studies are clear. Folks who regularly visit their physician for visits which include wellness are, on average, healthier.)
2. Trusting your physician. (If the relationship is not built on trust find another physician.)
 

B U T

Remember, it’s your body! Within that trusting relationship you must be a partner and not a blind follower. I love it when my patients ask good questions. “Do I really need this drug?” “Are there some things I can do differently to avoid taking it?” “Will it cause side effects? “My friend said it will cause severe fatigue. Is that true?”

Questions like this tell me that they are engaged in the process. They take ownership of their health yet trust my expertise. That makes for a great partnership in good health!

With that in mind, let’s consider the cholesterol lowering statin drugs. An excellent article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April of 2012. It was written by two editors of the Archives of Internal Medicine who also happen to be heart specialists, Drs. Mitchell H. Katz and Rita Redberg. I’ll quote directly from their opening statement:

“The important questions for clinicians (and for patients) are as follows: (1) does treatment of elevated cholesterol levels with statins in otherwise healthy persons decrease mortality or prevent other serious outcomes? (2) What are the adverse effects associated with statin treatment in healthy persons? (3) Do the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks? The answers to these questions suggest that statin therapy should not be recommended for men with elevated cholesterol who are otherwise healthy.”

PillsI couldn’t agree more and am thankful that these esteemed members of the medical community have thoughtfully and courageously addressed this crucial topic. My next few posts will cover these questions in detail.