Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Statin Drugs May Lead to a Less Healthy Lifestyle

It is said that the use of the new automobile safety equipment has led to a great reduction in the automobile death rate. But the new equipment, some say, may encourage people to drive less safely, since people can feel that the safety equipment will protect them from injury in an automobile accident. Statin drugs can lower cholesterol, which can reduce heart attacks and stroke risks. But, like automobile safety equipment, a new study indicates that statins may encourage people to live less healthy lives. For example, people may consume more calories and fat because they feel the statins will protect them from bad health.

There is no doubt that statins can improve health. According to a Medline article,  " Studies show that, in certain people, statins reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by about 25% to 35%. Studies have also shown that statins can reduce the chances of recurrent strokes or heart attacks by about 40%." Further, according to the article,  "Estimates are that in addition to the people already taking them, another 15 to 20 million people should be taking statin drugs based on their risk factors for heart disease."

But if more people take statins, it could, potentially, make things worse. A ten-year study determined that “People who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol appear to have developed a false sense of security that could lead to heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses.” The researchers suggest that statin users might not "feel the urgency to reduce their caloric and fat consumption or to lose weight the way statin users 10 years ago did..."
Since statins may encourage people to live less healthy lives, healthcare providers should continually stress to their patients the importance of making lifestyle changes in addition to taking statins. These lifestyle changes should include a healthy diet and exercise. Counseling is the tool commonly employed in helping the patient make these changes. And if the patient is obese, under the Affordable Care Act, some of the counseling is reimbursable.


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