Negative News Stories Putting Patients Off Statins
Negative news stories about statins seem to be stopping some people from taking them. New research at Copenhagen University Hospital has found the rise in negative stories about the cholesterol-lowering drugs to be associated with an increasing number of patients giving them up.
The research was based on 674,900 Danish people over the age of 40, who were using statins between 1995 and 2010. The researchers also identified 2,000 news stories about statins which ran nationally in Denmark during this period. They noted that the number of stories increased from 30 per year in 1995 to 400 in 2009, and a growing proportion were negative.
During this time the proportion of people on statins increased from less than 1% to 11%, but early statin discontinuation (within the first six months) increased from 6% to 18%. The study authors say that this decreasing use of statins may be the reason behind the small rise in the number of heart attacks which occurred in this period.
“We found that exposure to negative news stories about statins was linked to stopping statins early and explained 2% of all heart attacks and 1% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease associated with early discontinuation of statins,” says lead author Professor Børge Nordestgaard. “People who stop statins early have a 26% increased risk of heart attack and an 18% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease when compared to people who continue to use them. Although we cannot say for sure that statin-related negative news stories cause the early discontinuation of statins, our findings suggest that this is likely. And although this type of association research cannot prove causality, our data suggests that early discontinuation of statins leads to unnecessary heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular disease.”
The authors say that more needs to be done to ensure that people stick with their statins during the first six months in order to prevent cases of heart disease rising.
“This interesting study raises important questions about how people make decisions that affect their health and the consequences of those decisions,” says Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation. “It is important for patients that their doctors base their advice on objective interpretation of the best evidence available rather than biased reports in the lay and medical press. Everyone is influenced to a certain degree by the media and this study emphasises why it is important that medical professionals, in particular, should be guided by scientific evidence rather than opinion.”
If you would like to read more about this continuing debate, please follow this link to the Daily Mail
For a general overview of statins you can follow this link to the British Heart Foundation.
Finally, if you have any concerns please speak to your GP before making any changes to your medication.