Medical Minute: Sorting Out Statins

If you have high cholesterol your doctor will probably recommend a pill.

Elaine Overton's cholesterol was 260, so her doctor put her on Lipitor.

Elaine Overton said, "My cholesterol dropped about 100 points in about six weeks' time, really remarkable."

Statins can lower cholesterol by 40 percent and prevent heart attacks. The newest research shows they also reduce the risk of a second stroke by 16 percent.

Michael Welch, a neurologist, said, "If anything, they're under-prescribed. They certainly have been under- prescribed for stroke."

Current guidelines say you should be on a statin if your cholesterol is higher than 190 or if you have other risk factors like heart disease. If you have diabetes, you should be on one even if your cholesterol is normal.

But Dr. Beatrice Golomb says statins are over prescribed. She says they're only proven to help white, middle-aged men who have or are at risk for heart disease.

Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, said, "There's not really evidence that the benefits exceed the harms for women, for the elderly, or for men who aren't at high risk."

The drugs can also cause side effects like muscle weakness, nerve damage and even memory loss.

"What is it you're trying to say?"

Jane Brunzie's memory became so bad after taking Lipitor her family thought she had Alzheimer's.

Jane Brunzie said, "My daughter told me she didn't think that she could safely leave my granddaughter with me anymore."

Jane decided to go off the drug. Elaine's still on hers. Both want to live long and happy lives, one with and one without a statin.

For more information, contact:

Kathy Peterson
Chicago, IL
(847) 578-8344

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