18 May 2022 Patient Shares his Statin-Stopping Experience
Statins and a Patient’s Perspective on Informed Decision-making
Occasionally people read our Therapeutics Letters and contact us to share their experiences. These anecdotes are not systematically-reviewed evidence, but they sometimes give us insight to the dynamics at play when it comes to prescribing.
A 72-year old retired Burnaby man wrote to tell us he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 10 years ago and has been taking atorvastatin, then rosuvastatin “for most of that time.”
Even though he had normal cholesterol, his doctors discovered blocked coronary arteries in 2018 and he underwent a triple bypass procedure in 2019.
He writes: “I had been reading up on the side effects of statins and feel that I suffered from many of them. I decided to stop the statin. Within two weeks since I stopped the rosuvastatin, my joint pain has virtually disappeared, I have more strength in my muscles, and my feet are far less numb.” We examined adverse effects of statins as they were known in 2014 in Therapeutics Letter #89.
Deciding to stop the statin wasn’t easy for him.
“My cardiologist was dead set against stopping the statin” he wrote, but his GP agreed to respect his choice and continue to monitor his cholesterol. Trying to arrive at a good place in shared and informed medication choices, is an issue we summarized in our Therapeutics Letter #132 on Medication Adherence.
This patient’s story also reminds us that large randomized controlled trials (RCTs) never tell us everything about whether any individual patient is better off with or without a statin. Prescription drug therapies can delay death or disability for many people, but it is seldom if ever desirable for drug therapy to impair overall function.
About half of men over 70 in British Columbia take a statin. Our Therapeutics Letter #130 concluded that statins reduce serious cardiovascular events for secondary prevention in people over 70, but the relative and absolute benefit is less than in younger people.
People wishing to change their drug regime should not be hesitant to discuss their wishes with their physician. Whether our correspondent stops his statin or keeps taking it, as long as he is acting under the best information possible, any decision he makes is the right one for him.
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