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See Your Doctor If You’ve Stopped Your Statin

See Your Doctor If You’ve Stopped Your Statin without Medical Advice: Nps Medicinewise

NPS MedicineWise is today urging anyone who has stopped taking the cholesterol-lowing medicines known as statins without medical advice to make an appointment with their doctor to discuss their medicine choices.

A University of Sydney study published in the Medical Journal of Australia today estimates that 60,000 fewer people were taking statins in the eight months after a program on the topic aired on television in October 2013.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says that even though some time has now elapsed since the Catalyst program aired, it’s important for anyone who stopped taking their prescribed statins without a discussion with their doctor to go back and have a conversation to weigh up the risks and benefits of the medicine for them.

“All medicines have their own risks, benefits and side effects, but we also know it’s very clear that people at high risk of a heart attack or stroke benefit substantially from statins in terms of reducing that risk,” says Dr Weekes.

“This is particularly the case for most people who have had already experienced a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or non-haemorrhagic stroke.

“It is worrying to learn that our fears have been realised and that such a large number of people have stopped taking their prescribed statins, seemingly in response to a television program that was found by the ABC’s independent Audience and Consumer Affairs Unit to have not presented the evidence in a balanced way.

“Someone prescribed a statin is likely to be at higher risk of stroke or heart attack. For these medicines to reduce that risk they need to be taken every day and for the long term.

“Rather than choosing to stop taking a prescribed medicine such as a statin without professional input, NPS MedicineWise is absolutely urging people to seek qualified medical advice to discuss their concerns and learn how such a decision might affect their health.”

NPS MedicineWise has reviewed the clinical evidence on statins and published a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website addressing people’s key concerns.

The questions and answers include how a statin medicine can help and who should be prescribed them, the side effects statins can cause and what the evidence is behind their use. The document explains that recently published independent reviews of the evidence confirm that statins reduce the chance of heart attack or stroke for people at high risk, whether or not they have had a cardiovascular event before, and regardless of whether their blood cholesterol level is high or normal.

The FAQs also place in perspective concerns about possible statin side effects such as muscle pain or weakness, memory loss, and the risk of diabetes.

“NPS MedicineWise is urging anyone with concerns to read our information, and then talk to their doctor to make a shared decision about whether statins are right for them,” says Dr Weekes.

“It’s understandable that people are concerned when doubts are raised about the evidence behind a particular type of medicine, but in the case of statins the evidence is clear.”

To read the frequently asked questions on statins, visit www.nps.org.au/statins-faq

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) for the cost of a local call (calls from mobiles may cost more). Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).

ENDS

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