C-reactive protein ( CRP ) test will define 10 million elderly as new target for statins.
Recently a new target group for reductase inhibitors (statins) was announced: the elderly with normal cholesterol.
This is a far different story than they have been selling for some 20 years. Remember when cholesterol was your enemy, no eggs, no butter and no whole milk? I have been saying cholesterol was irrelevant for ten years now and finally it is beginning to sink in. Cholesterol is not the cause of atherosclerosis, inflammation is.
Soon your doctor may be doing a blood test for inflammation on you and if it is elevated they are probably going to try to place you on a statin. Be sure to question your doctor thoroughly about the adverse reactions associated with statin use, particularly in the elderly. If he tells you "they may be associated with a 2% incidence of muscle aches and pains and tendency for liver irritation that will go away when the dose is reduced" then your doctor has not learned anything about statin side effects beyond what we were all told over 15 years ago. But since then much has been learned by researchers.
Cognitive damage and severe personality change is as common as muscle aches and muscle aches occur with a frequency much closer to 20% than 2% and in some 68% of those the muscle problem will be permanent. Yes, they never mentioned permanent.
Another common problem is peripheral neuropathy especially when you learn that when neuropathy occurs it almost always is permanent. Peripheral neuropathy is so common that it has been warned by all of the drug companies for years. Even the World Health Organization has reported excess neuropathy in statin users worldwide. Hard to believe that any doctor would prescribe statins to a diabetic, but they do.
And last but certainly not least is the chronic neurodegenerative process destroying muscles and disabling many statin users, me included.
In November, 2008 a research team led by doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston announced the results of a study known as the JUPITER trial that involved nearly 18,000 patients. They found that statins protect against heart attacks and strokes even in older adults without known cardiovascular disease or diabetes and with low cholesterol (below 130 mg/dl - a group that isn't usually prescribed statins) as long as these patients also had high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) a blood marker for inflammation.
So just as certainly as night follows day, soon you will be told to submit to a CRP blood test for inflammation to see just how "risky" you are. If your risk value is sufficiently high you will probably be urged to take a statin. As long as your doctor recommends a low dose of statin, I can support this for with low dose there is little risk of blocking the mevalonate pathway, the principle cause of adverse side effects.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor