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I’m taking Arvostatin but should I stop?

Like a lot of people I’m taking Arvostatin so I watched the Catalyst program that makes the argument that such drugs are over prescribed, especially to those with minimal risk factors. To be entirely Francis I now have some doubts about the drug and wonder if my marginally raised cholesterol levels really justify the daily dose when (for example) diet and lifestyle changes could give the same result.

Norman Swan of the ABC’s health report is very concerned about the program, so much so that he has unequivocally denounced it as potentially life threatening:

from the AGE, click for source

from the AGE, click for source

It was clear to me that the point of the program was to argue that it is the very broad prescription of Statins as a general prophylactic may not be such a good idea and that for many people who take the drug the side effects may well be more problematic than the potential benefits. As an informed medical services consumer I am going to discuss this with my GP when I next see him because I am concerned that I may be experiencing the muscle pain that was mentioned in the Catalyst program. I can’t help thinking though that those like Norman Swan may just be underestimating the people that the medical profession are supposed to serve. Surely a population that takes the time to be informed about such health issues will benefit by being able to make informed health choices.
As for the indigenous people and others who Swan thinks may cark it if they cease taking the pills, well my guess is that they have enough other health issues that would have hastened their end anyway so perhaps his concerns about this are rather over stated.

Swann has on many occasions suggested that people should be  wary of exaggerated claims of efficacy when it comes to various medical treatments so I find his position on this frankly rather surprising and just a  bit disappointing.and more that a bit condescending. The evidence that Statins do what their makers claim in reducing Cholesterol levels is clear to me form my own blood tests but that still leaves unanswered the question of how much benefit this will have to the longevity of those of us who take them. In the end isn’t the point that we should live longer and enjoy better health from taking this drug?  If the claims of the program that it will make little difference to they majority of users are correct then doesn’t it suggest that fewer people really need to take the drug and that perhaps the profession needs to work on deciding just who it is should be using the drug and who is wasting their time by popping the pills?

Cheers Comrades

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5 Comments

  1. deknarf says:

    I operate on the basis that the minimal usage of pharmaceuticals is a sound life policy. Catalyst gave air to the contrary opinions with regard to the science behind the issue of cholesterol being the causative agent of heart disease. Like you Iain, were I taking any drugs, I would want the fullest understanding of their efficacy, side effects and the alternatives (both drug and treatments). On that basis I would be seeking medical advice (widely) and using the reputable sources on the web to understand the illness & treatments. We now have both arguments out in public. Rather than rants (possibly due to self interest) it would be much more productive if we were presented with a balanced view, exploring both position and providing well substantiated evidence to support those views. One other life policy that I also rely on is ‘bewared of pharmaceutical companies offering solutions, and gifts!’

  2. Iain Hall says:

    Believe me Deknarf I hate taking pills and as I have got older and I get ever more creaky taking drugs(not the fun kind either) becomes part of my day. The thing is that when I started taking them it was not about heart disease it was simply that my cholesterol was just a little bit high and my GP said it would be good “just in case” so I tend to think that I am one of those that the program would suggest should be questioning the prescription. I do get muscle pain in my legs at night and I have been putting that down to sciatica from my back condition…
    Its the joys of getting older I suppose and something that we have to put up with because the alternative is very unattractive

  3. deknarf says:

    The scary bit is when you look at the information on the respective drug of interest and then find the, often extensive, lists of contra-indications and ‘potential’ side effects. I too am a pill hater and, so far, am fortunate that the aches and pains from advancing age have not had a significant effect on lifestyle or activity. I been fortunate enough (thanks Gough) to have had a university education in the sciences (primarily biological) and have the capacity to understand most of the fancy words (and the respective textbooks and dictionary if I don’t). Hence my previous views on caution, advice, and a study of the relevant data & stats. As you say your cholesterol was just a ‘little’ high and perhaps a different approach (e.g. dietary) may be a much more preferred option, given the Catalyst report. We are also rather fortunate to have been ‘edjamakated’ which gives us the analytical abilities to understand the issues. 😉

  4. Iain Hall says:

    Its also a good idea to be aware of how drugs work in combination when we are taking multiple prescriptions at once.

  5. deknarf says:

    You’re right on that one! 😉

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