For many Americans with high cholesterol and a family or personal history of heart disease, Vytorin has been the first line of defense against heart disease. According to MSNBC, a new study may change all of that. In findings presented on Sunday to the American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago, experts say that Vytorin provided no measurable benefit for heart disease sufferers, despite having a dramatic impact on triglycerides, LDL and artery inflammation. The study’s authors urge doctors to return to proven treatments like statins to reduce the risk of heart disease. The study was completed two years ago, but the findings are just being made public and Congress is looking into the delay.
As someone with a family history of heart disease and stroke, my doctor and I have made it a priority to keep certain risk factors under control. When my cholesterol started to creep up, I modified an already healthy diet and added exercise into my daily routine. It worked for several years, but as I passed 35, the cholesterol numbers began to climb again.
While statins have been on the market for many years and have been proven effective, my doctor recommended me Vytorin. My physician recommended Vytorin because it had been shown to dramatically decrease cholesterol numbers in a relatively short amount of time and it came without some of the troublesome side effects that some people experience when they take statins. My doctor also recommended Vytorin because it could actually decrease the amount of cholesterol my liver produced, which seemed to be the key to my problem since I was already eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and getting plenty of moderate exercises.
I took my doctor’s recommendation and filled the prescription, even though I dislike being on a daily medication regimen. My cholesterol did drop back to normal range, which made me feel better about taking a pill every day.
Of course, the whole purpose of reducing cholesterol is to reduce the plaque that can form in your arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. High LDL (bad cholesterol) is said to build up in your arteries, which raises your risk for heart disease. The study released today shows that even though LDL levels were reduced by Vytorin, it made no impact on the build-up of arterial plaque. This is puzzling, but it also negates the reason for taking Vytorin in the first place. Also troubling is the fact that the study results were known for two years before the public was told. Millions of people, including me, were taking an expensive pill that was, at best, ineffective.
My doctor and I will discuss Vytorin on my next visit, and I will ask about statins, which are cheaper and have been proven to work. I will also be less likely to accept a drug that is new and has few studies to back it up. The Vytorin debacle points out the need for patients to be well-informed and proactive about their health.