New Cholesterol Calculator Doesn't Add Up

Monday, November 18, 2013

Victor Gonzales has his cholesterol checked at the City of Newark's free homeless health fair at the Department of Child and Family Well-Being on August 13, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Rick Gershon/Getty)

Last week the country's leading heart organizations released new guidelines for lowering cholesterol. The key to these changes is an online calculator that helps doctors assess risk and how best to treat those with high cholesterol.

But today our partner The New York Times says this calculator "greatly overestimates the risk, so much so that it could mistakenly suggest that millions more people are candidates for statin drugs."

It's prompted one leading cardiologist, a past president of the American College of Cardiology, to call for a halt to the implementation of the new guidelines.

Joining The Takeaway to explain why this new cholesterol calculator doesn't add up is Dr. Michael Blaha, director of clinical research at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins University.

Guests:

Dr. Michael Blaha

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

CAROLINE from NJ USA

I guess we now need a pill even when we don't really. People! Can't we all see, and agree that there is money to be made from selling us drugs ~ more people taking 'em ~more money to be made by drug companies. Who cares if you really need it or not?

If you are a woman and over 65 you are more apt to suffer negative side effects, but men do also. Being over 65 already has some negative side effects . . . ya know? Tiredness and aches and pains in muscles are a side effect, and who doesn't already have that? So when you tell your doctor those symptoms are worse the doc is likely to say, "well, you aren't getting any younger, and you need this med." Never mind the effects on kidneys and liver, enzymes older folks need for building normal muscle cells.

Those people with smaller frames also are at greater risk for side effects, and if you have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you are at greater risk. These are according to the Mayo Clinic's website.

There seems to be NO ANSWER to why . . . but I'd offer: It's because putting a foreign substance in your body is a problem, anytime, and if you don't even need it ~ it creates more of a problem than if you'd just gone on the way you are. Besides, give them a week, and everything will change again - remember butter vs margarine?

Nov. 18 2013 12:37 PM
Bob from Westchester, NY

John's gratuitous slap at Big Pharma was lazy reporting - Lipitor and the other big statin drugs have been off-patent for a couple of years. It's the generic drug industry that stands to benefit, not the innovative Big Pharma companies.

Nov. 18 2013 09:24 AM

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