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What You Should Know Before Saying 'Yes' to Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs

What You Should Know Before Saying 'Yes' to Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs Read Transcript


LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): David Venables

blames statins for ruining his life

and killing his dream of a retirement filled with travel.

He says taking the drug caused such severe walking

and breathing problems, he's basically homebound.

Yeah, I have a disease that apparently is not

going to get better, and it's progressive.

I took the statin drug.

It triggered something.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): Although David felt great,

his doctor prescribed a statin because he

felt David's LDL, or bad cholesterol, was too high.

The first sign I had a problem, I woke up screaming.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): Statins' side

effects include memory loss, confusion,

and muscle weakness, which often go away when the patient stops

taking the drug.

Some statin users, however, say their problems are permanent.

There's a whole industry saying

it's not from the statin drug.

My doctor said, you have a systemic disease--

the cardiologist who pushed this on me--

you have a systemic disease.

He said, but it's not from the statin drug.

I said, well, what's it from?

He said, I don't know.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): David is

one of thousands on the web and social media

reporting devastating, even fatal, reactions after taking

a statin, to little avail.

You can't prove it.

You can't disprove it.

And no one will make money from studying it.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): Cleveland Clinic cardiologist

Leslie Cho worries stories like this might

discourage overall statin use.

And so for us to say things like, oh,

I think people are taking too much statin therapy,

and for your viewers who desperately need

cholesterol-lowering medicine because they had heart attack

or stroke, to then take themselves off would be

a horrendous disservice.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): She goes further,

saying not only should patients stick with the drug,

but that more should take it.

There is great evidence that, if you have low cholesterol,

you live longer, have less heart attack, less dementia,

less stroke.

And these cholesterol-lowering medicines

have been studied in over 1 million people.

Penicillin was approved based on 40 patients.

While proponents of cholesterol-lowering statins

say medical evidence proves the drugs save lives,

there are others within the medical community who say that

research is deeply flawed.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): In his book "Overdosed America,"

Harvard's Dr. John Abramson claims drug companies

pay for the studies.

When the drug companies undertake research,

their primary goal is to produce what's

taken for knowledge that will increase their drug sales.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): He says

that control allows companies to keep the raw data secret

and release only what makes their product look good.

There are significant differences

between what's published in even the best

journals and the data that exists in a primary form

that you can only get access to in litigation.

It's corporate secrets.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): In short, he

says doctors are being scammed.

They're looking at the story that's told by the drug

companies-- unverified--

thinking that that's the real evidence.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): Abramson

recommends independent experts analyze all of the research

before publishing the results, to fix this problem.

He also suggests that studies compare

the results of taking the drug versus lifestyle changes.

Exercising routinely, not smoking,

addressing the stress in your life, eating a healthy diet--

that's probably about four times more

important than the conversation about statins.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): Abramson adds,

statistics show, out of 83 users,

statins prevent only one cardiovascular death,

and one non-fatal cardiovascular event out of 23 users.

I think we lower it too much.

I think we lower cholesterol too much.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): When it comes to heart disease,

cardiologist Patrick Fratellone and other doctors

want the focus moved from cholesterol

to high triglycerides, a blood test often overlooked.

So when you eat a diet that is full of simple sugars,

simple breads, pastas, high-sugar fruits,

your triglycerides go up.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): When triglycerides go up,

good cholesterol, or HDL, goes down.

But both can be improved simultaneously.

So I usually put people on a low-carbohydrate lifestyle.

Moderate fat-- good fat from avocados, nuts, and seeds--

lean protein.

But I also put them on oils, because omega-3

decreases the triglycerides.

There is one supplement that decreases

triglycerides, called niacin.

LORIE JOHNSON (VOICEOVER): Fratellone

says raising HDL strengthens the heart and immune system.

He recommends HDL levels around 50,

and triglycerides at around 150.

So, while most doctors agree statins

are helpful for some patients, with all these questions,

you should feel free to talk to your doctor about

whether one is right for you.

Lorie Johnson, CBN News.

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