A big new statin drug study from American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology is causing controversy for many good reasons. The study indicates that the number of Americans taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs could rise to 72 million from 36 million. Purely from the mathematics of NNT (number needed to treat), I am no fan of the new study’s recommendations. The study says that statin drugs can reduce a type-2 diabetic’s chances of yearly heart complications risk to 4 percent from 5 percent. One may conclude that 40 patients per 1000 would be at risk rather than 50 patients per thousand. This equates to a NNT of 100 to 1. Of every 100 patients treated with statins, only 1 patient might benefit. Yet all the other 99 patients would be at risk for any number of potentially ugly side benefits. One can attack this new study on a number of fronts. At the end of the day, the NNT numbers alone would give me a great deal of concern. Here you can read in detail about the controversial new study. The study now advises that driving down LDL levels to certain target measurements should not be a target. I have been writing for years against this targeting. There is no doubt in my mind that statin drugs can drive down LDL readings, but my question has been, is this a good idea?
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