When it comes to cholesterol, there are two different kinds. Both are produced by the body as well as found in the food a person consumes. One kind is HDL, which is the “good” cholesterol. The other kind is LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol. Many Americans have high cholesterol, especially the bad kind, which can lead to heart disease. When someone is unable to lower their cholesterol through diet and exercise, a doctor might prescribe a medication to help lower their cholesterol levels. However, some believe that doctors may be over-prescribing the drug, as the American Council of Science and Health reports.
In 2015-2016, the CDC set out to find out how many Americans were being prescribed “statins,” the drugs that help to lower cholesterol. The study found that 50% of men aged 60 years and older and 38% of women.
Keep in mind that cholesterol is synthesized in the liver and roughly 80% of total cholesterol is produced by the body. The other 20% is obtained through diet. Some people just naturally produce a high level of cholesterol. These patients are prescribed statins when diet and exercise aren’t enough to lower their cholesterol levels.
This would mean that 50% of the males over 60 are producing too much cholesterol, combined with 38% of women. Some debate that those numbers are unnaturally high.
It is true that for patients for whom there is no other option, statins do save lives. However, the side effects of statins, which include muscle pain and fatigue, need to be taken into account when these are prescribed.
Professional organizations provide widely varying recommendations on who should receive statins. It seems as though fewer medications are better for the patient, so consideration needs to be made, and options carefully considered, before prescribing a patient statins.
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