The New York Times reports that a clinical trial testing the efficacy of the cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia, not only has no effect on reducing heart attacks and strokes, but possibly speeds up the progression of atherosclerosis.
The two pharmaceutical companies that produce the drug and conducted the studies knew about the results since April 2006, the time when the study was concluded The corporations, however, withheld informing the public until last week due to pressures by the Congress.
The report by the NYT brings up several issues that affects you as a patient.
First, the fact that the companies were hiding unfavorable results of the trial from physicians and millions of patients who take the drug is not only concerning, to say the least, but will probably unleash a wave of lawsuits against the companies involved.
Secondly and more importantly, the news that certain cholesterol drugs don’t show the promised effect of reducing heart attacks and strokes sheds light on an issue that has been boiling under the radar of mass media for many years: cholesterol is not the bad guy the way the medical community and the media has been portraying. The conventional medical world is barking up the wrong tree.
It is correct that statin drugs — a class of drugs that lowers cholesterol in a different way than Zetia — has shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, the mechanism is likely not due to lowering the amount of cholesterol in the blood, but by having an anti-inflammatory effect on the vessels and heart muscles. And over the last few months that is just what the pharmaceutical companies have begun to tout about statin medication!
In five to ten years, the medical community will likely shift from focusing so much on cholesterol and regard inflammation in the body as the main culprit in cardiovascular disease. It will take time because politics, large and slow organizations and a whole lot of money is involved. Cholesterol drugs are a multi-billion dollar business that pharmaceutical companies don’t want to give up so easily. Vytorin and Zetia have made a revenue of five billion dollars last year alone.
- If you are on Zetia or Vytorin talk your doctor and discuss other options of reducing heart disease.
- If you are on any cholesterol lowering drugs, and your doctor gives you no other options and suggestions besides medication, I advice you find a physician who is skilled and experienced in giving you treatment plans that are comprehensive, treat the root cause, and include detailed dietary and lifestyle suggestions.
- Maintain a healthful diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, good sources of fibers, while avoiding fried and highly processed foods.
- A walk a day keeps the doc away!