News coming out of this week’s meeting of the American College of Cardiology suggests nearly every man over 55 and every woman over 65 should be on a statin medication to decrease their cardiovascular risk.
That’s right — more drugs for even more people.
The HOPE-3 trial, a five year trial which involved more than 12,000 patients, identified a significant cardiovascular risk reduction with a reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Specifically, the use of statins was associated with a 25% reduction in death and hospitalizations for cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke over 5 years. This risk reduction was so significant that the researchers recommended that physicians put all their patients who are like those in the trial on a statin drug immediately.
So what were the participants like? The trial included a balanced ratio of middle aged and older men and women, representing multiple ethnic backgrounds. Many of them were overweight and were identified as having a moderate risk for developing heart disease.
The results were exciting. The average LDL reduction was 35 points. That’s the same amount of LDL lowering possible with strategic dietary change like using Step One Foods.
And here’s where they lost us. Although the LDL reduction is achievable with changes to diet, that was not the recommendation coming from the researchers. In fact, they did not include food or other lifestyle changes in their research at all.
It makes no sense to use a drug to treat the downstream effects of diet–instead of changing the diet. Especially since being on a statin will do nothing to change your weight, your HDL cholesterol or your blood sugar control. In effect, this trial instructs physicians to reduce your risk through medications while leaving you a perpetual candidate for them.
This is the type of disconnect in how medicine is practiced that drove the development of Step One Foods. Because we know that if you can solve a diet-driven health issue with making a small change in what you eat, that’s a much better solution than not changing your diet and becoming dependent on medications.
Not every ill should always be solved with a pill.