I am late with my posting here this week; partly because on Monday I had to go to my doctor for my annual checkup.
Tuesday I made a visit to my eye-doctor for my annual eye examination. Both turned out good.
On Monday my doctor was concerned about my low resting heart rate, he had it a 40.
I explained it was always low, had been most of my life.
He said at my age he would like to check it out with an EKG, I agreed. The diagnosis, a strong, healthy heart beat.
Where the doc and I disagreed was on my cholesterol; he wanted to put me on a cholesterol lowering drug, and I refused. My cholesterol was at 286 last year and I refused then saying I would rather change my diet and increase my exercise.
I have done that and this year my level is down slightly but the doctor wants me to take Lipitor or something similar. I am refusing on the grounds that it will cost me $1,000 a year, it has some nasty side effects, and I am not convinced it is necessary.
I might be a little less skeptical if my doctor wasn’t getting a financial kick back from the drug company for convincing me to take this stuff. Plus he is already making money from the cholesterol screening.
I could ditch this doctor and find one that had my wellbeing at heart over and above his own financial interests, but frankly I can’t be bothered.
However, if I am not going to take his advice, I am considering next year to not even have my cholesterol checked, just have him check out my heart.
Cholesterol appears to be naturally high in my body no matter what, it is probably hereditary. I have been eating oatmeal almost every day of my life, so there is another bullshit theory out of the window.
I am not a medical doctor so I want to be clear that I am not offering advice, but I am simply suggesting that some might want to do as I have done and become informed and then make their own decision.
We live in an age of information and there is a lot of information out there both for and against. From what I read and hear these medications called statin are mainly beneficial to people who already have heart disease. I don’t have heart disease.
One of the best articles I have read on the subject is one from January 2008 in Business Week. It is a lengthy six page piece and it states that these cholesterol lowering drugs are a $27.8 billion a year industry.
That’s billion with a “B.” No wonder we a bombarded with nightly TV ads for the stuff, and the drug companies can afford to give kick-backs to doctors for prescribing it?
Read the fine print in Pfizer’s own Lipitor ad, it states in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.
This means that for every 100 people in the trial, which lasted 3 1/3 years, three people on placebos and two people on Lipitor had heart attacks.
The difference credited to the drug? One fewer heart attack per 100 people.
So to spare one person a heart attack, 100 people had to take Lipitor for more than three years. The other 99 got no measurable benefit.
I draw a parallel here with riding a bike; if you took a cross-section of the population most would say it is much too dangerous to ride a bicycle on the road. Of course I disagree. Some would ask me if I have a death wish; actually I ride a bike because I have a “Life” wish.
A large portion of the population is sold on the idea that they need Lipitor; just as a large number are sold on the idea that cycling is dangerous. Informed people may or may not think otherwise.
High cholesterol can block arteries and cause heart attacks, but that will mostly happen to people who smoke and sit on their ass and don’t exercise. Exercising by riding a bike will help me live longer but there is also a slight possibility it can get me killed too.
However, I refuse to live my life in fear that I may die on the road, and allow that fear to stop me doing something I love, that is riding my bike.
I also refuse to give $1,000 a year of my hard earned money to doctors and drug companies to allay the extremely slight possibility that my high cholesterol might also kill me.
Against popular opinion, I for one will continue to live dangerously by riding my bike while not taking Lipitor. Maybe I do have a death wish.