Q. Several years ago, when my cholesterol was 240, my doctor “ordered” me to take a statin, even though my triglycerides were low and my good HDL high. I pointed out that at age 60, I was able to hike at altitudes over 10,000 feet carrying a pack with very little effort and could easily jog 6 miles or more. He dismissed this and would not answer my questions about statins.
I wondered if he was concerned about liability, so I offered to sign a release statement showing he had directed me to take a statin and I had declined. He accepted. A few years later, I received a letter from him letting me know how lucky I had been to be his patient and dismissing me from his care.
The whole situation was so absurd I wasn’t even offended. I am now closing in on 72, still jogging, still backpacking and still not taking statins.
A. The evidence that statins prevent initial heart attacks or prolong life in otherwise healthy people is weak (JAMA Internal Medicine, June 28, 2010). Your doctor should have applauded you as a role model for maintaining such good health.
We discuss the pros and cons of statins and offer many non-drug solutions in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health. Some people develop muscle pain on statins, which keeps them from exercising as vigorously as you do. While there are people who benefit from statins, they are most appropriate for people who have heart disease or multiple risk factors, not just high total cholesterol. We believe that your doctor should have been willing to re-examine the evidence and think he might have come over to your perspective if he had done so.