My GP wants me to go on statins even though I am slim, eat healthily and ... trends now
I’m slim, eat healthily and exercise regularly. But my cholesterol has gone up to 6.1, and the GP tells me I have a 14 per cent chance of having a stroke or heart attack within the next ten years. They’re pushing me to take statins. As my risk is low, is it really necessary?
My husband took statins and they gave him muscle pain. I have fibromyalgia and I don’t want any more pain.
Sandra McKinnon, Watford, Herts.
You’ve clearly been assessed using the QRisk3 calculator; this involves entering data about a patient — such as age, sex, ethnicity, blood pressure and weight — and then an alogorithm calculates the chances of having a heart attack or stroke within the following ten years.
At 14 per cent, your risk is moderate, and the guidelines recommends that people with a score of ten or more should be offered cholesterol-lowering medication — i.e. statins.
In my view, at your risk level the decision on whether you take a statin (which usually continues for life) depends on balancing your opinion about the potential side-effects against the well-established benefits.
Part of this decision may include thinking about the other options that can help reduce your risk.
The guidelines recommends that people with a score of ten or more on the the QRisk3 calculator should be offered cholesterol-lowering medication
For those who are overweight, for instance, it helps to lose weight. In addition, daily physical exercise; a Mediterranean-type diet (reducing animal fat intake, and eating plenty of pulses, fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and olive oil); regular sleep pattern; quitting smoking; and meditation have all been shown to reduce cholesterol levels independently of taking medication.
Your letter prompted me to calculate my own risk percentage and I was astonished to find that it is 10.2, rather higher than I expected.
You regard 14 per cent as low risk, yet I rather feel that my 10.2 per cent seems rather high; indeed, if I went to sleep tonight with a 10.2 per cent chance of winning EuroMillions on tonight’s draw, I would go to bed rather excited!
I myself do take a statin, but be reassured, you cannot be forced to take one, and you do have other