The majority of Medicare beneficiaries do not fill prescriptions for high-intensity statin drugs after being hospitalized for complications related to coronary heart disease, a new study has found.
Researchers with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City examined the proportion of Medicare recipients filing statin prescriptions after being discharged from the hospital for a cardiac event. They found that only 27 percent of first post-discharge prescription fills among 8,762 Medicare beneficiaries filling a statin prescription after a cardiovascular event were for a high-intensity statin.
Cholesterol-lowering statins are prescribed to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in patients with elevated cholesterol levels. While benefits to patients who have not had a heart attack remain questionable, the drugs have been shown to reduce the risk of second heart attacks in patients with high cholesterol levels.
Statins have been touted as miracle drugs for their purported heart benefits, however many people cannot tolerate statin side effects, even in lower-intensity doses. Adverse events associated with statins, such as the widely prescribed Lipitor, include muscle injury and liver damage, both of which can be fatal.
But statins can also increase blood sugar levels, which in turn can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition which requires regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, following a specialized diet, and often taking medication to help prevent serious health complications including heart attacks, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, amputations, and blindness. Postmenopausal women on statins are at greatest risk of developing diabetes.
Manufacturers of statins, including Pfizer, are facing mounting lawsuits from women who claim the drug company knew its statin could increase blood sugar levels and cause type 2 diabetes but failed to warn patients and their doctors of this risk in an effort to maintain profit margins.
Source: Medical Xpress