Man grabs at his heart. He has a heart attack. risk of heart attacks, heart attack patients

There is considerable controversy about the value of statins for preventing initial heart attacks. Some physicians are convinced that these drugs are extremely useful, while others point out (as in this editorial in JAMA Internal Medicine) that the data supporting that stance are weak. Almost no one disputes the importance of these cholesterol-lowering drugs for stroke or heart attack patients after such a serious event.

How Well Do Heart Attack Patients Take Their Statins?

A new study finds, however, that many heart attack patients do not follow through on taking high-dose statins afterwards. The investigators analyzed data for almost 60,000 Medicare patients. All of them had received a prescription for either atorvastatin (Lipitor) or rosuvastatin (Crestor). They were interested in “adherence,” a medical term for how well patients continue taking their medications.

Many People Stopped Taking Their Statins:

Despite the high stakes, within two years fewer than half of these heart attack patients were still taking their statin at the prescribed dose. This study was not designed to discover why, so the reason for such dropouts remains unclear. People who had more cardiologist visits after their hospital discharge and those who participated in cardiac rehabilitation did better. Perhaps this reinforcement is important.

Why? We Don’t Know:

When it comes to explaining why people may drop their medication, cost and side effects may play roles. Many people report muscle pain or weakness and some complain of “brain fog” when they are taking statins. Addressing these concerns rather than dismissing them might help. We will look forward to a future study that explains why heart attack patients stop their statins.

Colantonio et al, JAMA Cardiology, April 19, 2017

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  1. M.J.

    I feel that muscle weakness is definitely attributed to Lipitor. My husband was a body builder, strong, healthy, and now his muscles are wasting away, and no professional has ever given him a true diagnosis, and they will not listen when you try and tell them what is going on.

  2. Glenda
    Winter Haven Fl

    Please advise what to do having a very high c-reactive high protein count but cholesterol is perfect

  3. Patricia

    Expense. Expense of the once a year dr. visit as well as the medication itself. Then there is the contradictory information regarding statins and it’s side effects as well as distrust of big pharma and the FDA. I go back and forth and am currently looking at alternative, natural ways to lower LDL.

  4. JCCJ
    North Carolina

    Why stop taking statins? From personal experience: after by-pass for 95% blockage, started on 40 mg Lipitor. At 1st annual checkup, I complained of extreme leg pains and wanted to discuss some articles and studies I had read. The Doctor, head of cardiology for a major hospital, told me they didn’t know what they were talking about much less me. That was when I fired him. My new cardiologist listened to me and changed me to 20 mg of Crestor. Some leg discomfort but not much. Haven’t missed a pill in 10 years. Another reason is the insane cost of these pills. About $5 per 20 mg pill. And the price just keeps going up.

  5. TERRY

    I have recently heard that taking statins every other day is just as effective as every day. Is this true? I am prescribed 40 mg. Per day.

  6. Cheryl
    Cloverport, KY

    High-dose Lipitor made my husband feel achy, tired, and brain foggy. Despite haveing had a five-vessel bypass twelve years ago, he made the concious decision to take only a small daily dose. We both decided that it was a “quality (of life) over quantity” decision.

    What is the point of living longer if those years are spent being miserable? And yes, he does feel considerably better on the smaller dose. He’s even considered completely stopping the med, but we aren’t quite that brave.

  7. Virginia T
    Greensboro NC

    People stop statin drugs because of the side effects & not having a good quality of life due to not feeling well & not having any energy.

  8. Mary

    I have tried to take statins for years but at first the cost was awful. Then when they came out with generics I started taking them but within weeks, I could barely walk. My muscles hurt so bad and even my bones were hurting. The brain fog was miserable.
    It’s hard to believe that something that is supposed to be so good for you can make you so miserable. No longer take any of them.

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