There is a growing question mark over a commonly prescribed type of drug to lower cholestorol.
Some scientists and doctors believe statins are overused, but the latest round of debate in France goes even further.
Professors Bernard Debré and Philippe Even have published a guidebook for thousands of drugs – and they believe statins are useless.
Since his heart attack, 44 year old Stéphane Ricois has regular appointments at a major hospital in Paris.
He has an unhealthy diet, he smokes and does not exercise, combining all the major risk factors. His specialist is particularly concerned about his high level of cholestorol.
“Before the doctor told me, I didn’t know I had high cholesterol. I’d never done the analysis before, because I was feeling fine.”
Now he takes Crestor, a drug in the statin family. Despite the controversy, many doctors still believe they prevent high cholesterol levels and cardio-vascular problems.
Senior cardiologist at Georges Pompidou Hospital, Nicolas Danchin said: “In coronary patients, that is people who have had a heart attack or angina, statins not only reduce the risk of having a recurrence, but quite simply they lower the risk of death or, more accurately, put the risk of death further away, and raise the life expectancy of these patients in a quite significant manner”.
Statins are among the most prescribed drugs in the world. In France they are used by at least 4-million people, costing the insurance companies 1.5-billion euros a year.
The French drug regulation agency ANSM believes they are an important weapon in a doctor’s arsenal.
Manager Joseph Emmerich said: “These drugs have been extremely well scrutinized for side effects and, anyway, there are not many drugs that can reduce mortality by 10% like statins.”
The alternative view
Not everyone though is such a fan. Renaud de Langlade heads several companies in the field of advanced electronics.
He took statins for ten years because his cholestorol readings were high.
It was a decade of painful side-effects, professional problems and a family crisis.
Now he has ditched the statins and he is back on top again.
“Mainly I felt fatigue. When I came home I was drained. I had no energy, nothing. And when I say I had no motivation I mean none whatsoever,” Langlade explained.
“In the morning when I was back in the office, I was not 100% with the clients. But when I stopped the statins, even before I started exercise again, I felt much better, 10 times better, No more anxiety or stress, no more troubles and I could sleep. I returned to the normal workrate I had before. “
One leading cardiologist has changed his mind about statins.
Michel de Lorgeril from Grenoble University now believes they serve no purpose in lowering cholestorol to prevent cardiac problems. Indeed he even thinks they are dangerous.
“We’ll come to the inevitable conclusion in the end that these drugs are unnecessary and toxic, they must be removed from the market and the health service must stop paying for them,” Lorgeril said. “As professors Even and Debré have already said, if you really want to protect yourself from heart disease and stroke, you should turn to something other than anti-cholesterol drugs.”
There are already other ways of looking after your heart that are unanimously endorsed by medical world.
Exercise is one. Saying goodbye to tobacco and animal fat is another, and saying hello to a Mediterranean style diet, full of fresh veg.