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Statins Prevent Heart Attacks Only in High-Risk Patients

Statin drugs have not been shown to be more effective than lifestyle changes in preventing heart attacks and strokes. Extensive data show that statins lower cholesterol and reduce chances of getting a second heart attack in people who have already had one, but nobody has shown that statins effectively prevent heart attacks or death in people who are not at high risk. Lowering cholesterol with statins has not been shown to prevent heart attacks in people without other major risk factors.

Recent Findings
Statins do lower cholesterol effectively, but they may fail to prevent heart attacks because people who take them eat more calories, gain more weight and are fatter than people who do not take statins (Society of General Internal Medicine meeting in San Diego, April, 2014). People who take statins exercise less than those who do not take statins (JAMA Internal Medicine, published online June 9, 2014). These findings suggest that people taking statins may believe that they do not need to change their diet and exercise habits.

Side Effects of Statins
• Higher blood sugar levels and increased risk of developing diabetes
• Forgetfulness
• Kidney and liver damage
• Muscle pain. The people who are most likely to suffer muscle pain from statins are those who exercise the most. Some people who believe that they have arthritis because they have muscle and joint pain find that their pain goes away if they stop taking the statins.

I believe that doctors should spend more time teaching their patients how to change the lifestyle factors that cause heart attacks, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, rather than taking the much less time-consuming route of writing a prescription.

Checked 12/5/16

July 13th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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