Thursday, August 8, 2013

Over diagnosis—High Cholesterol

This is a series of key points from the 2013 book, Overdiagnosis, Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, by H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy. In the late 1990’s, a major study showed that if you lowered the average cholesterol from 228 to 184, you could lower the risk of a major cardiac event from 5% to 3%. Medical organizations hedged a bit and lowered the target cholesterol from 240 to 200. That immediately labeled 42 million U.S. citizens as new “patients”, even though only 2% of them will benefit from treatment, and 98% will receive no benefit at all. Since only 20% of cholesterol comes from the diet, most of these new patients are treated with statin drugs, which can cause significant side effects. Virtually all of the experts who made the decision to lower the target cholesterol had connections to the drug companies that make the statin drugs. A word of caution--if you have already had a heart attack, the statistics are different. Celebration of Health Association website

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