IS CRESTOR FOR EVERYONE?
A recent study on Crestor, implies that millions of people with even low cholesterol would be helped with Crestor, since it lowers heart attacks and strokes by almost 50%. This study was to be for 5 years but was stopped with less than 2 years.
Stopping the trial early limited getting more meaningful details on the long-term safety of taking this drug. The number of patients that were saved by going on the statins had much more details in their studies. Other reports in 2007 showed that taking the statins to lower LDL had no effect on whether you lived longer or died sooner.
The Crestor study showed that if 120 people take the drug, one would be helped. Twenty-five people would need to take the drug, and only one heart attack in 5 years would be prevented. Your chances of dying would be the same.
So, who should take the C reactive protein, CRP, blood test? At what high level of the protein should one start statins? The role of the protein, CRP, and inflammation in heart disease is hotly debated. Dr. Ridker believes inflammation plays an important role, probably by causing plaque in the arteries to rupture. CRP can rise with short-term infections unrelated to chronic inflammation. It is no t a standard test that everyone should have.
Heart disease is a complex illness and is affected by many risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity.
If you don't have these risk factors, should you take the CRP test? You should be counseled about diet and exercise.
Just because you have a high CRP does not justify taking statins if you never had a heart attack or don't have high cholesterol. Statins have been linked to muscle deterioration and kidney problems, and some patients reported fogginess of memory loss.
Cost is also a factor. The CRP test costs up to $50. Name brand stains cost $3 ad day. To put healthy patients on statins would cost the health system billions of dollars.
Dr. Ridker, a co-inventor of a CRP test, said he first sought federal financing for the study and was turned down. The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, who made the drug in the trial, called Crestor on the market, sponsored this study, called Jupiter.
Maybe we should just put statins in our drinking water like we do fluoride. We all want to believe every new drug is the answer to our health problems.
Source NY Times Nov.9, 2008
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