I’m exhausted. My hair hurts. My head’s about to explode, singed by the firestorm of media coverage about new cardiovascular disease treatment guidelines – specifically, the newly-expanded recommendations to prescribe the cholesterol drugs called statins to just about every middle-aged person who still has a detectable pulse.
Five years ago, I was told by my cardiologist that, as a freshly-diagnosed heart attack survivor, I was most definitely in the right demographic to benefit from taking a statin every day for the rest of my natural life (along with a fistful of other cardiac meds). Statins, he explained, would help prevent another heart attack by controlling my specific target levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly known as LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol’. Lots of studies (at least, those paid for by the folks who make statins) seemed to indicate that lower LDL numbers would decrease both my risk of suffering a future cardiac event as well as death.
But now, these new treatment guidelines are essentially telling us and our doctors not to obsess at all on those target LDL numbers in favour of expanding the pool of potential statin-users out there.