Docs vs. Internet: For the Hearts & Minds of Patients- Who Wins?!

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SOURCE: MEDPAGE TODAY

A leading cardiologist has unleashed a blistering attack on “statin denial,” which he calls “an internet-driven cult with deadly consequences.”

In an editorial in Annals of Internal Medicine, Steve Nissen (Cleveland Clinic) expressed grave concerns over statistics showing that only 61% of people given a prescription for a statin were adherent at 3 months. “For a treatment with such well- documented morbidity and mortality benefits, these adherence rates are shockingly low. Why?” he asks.

Nissen writes that “we are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of our patients to Web sites developed by people with little or no scientific expertise, who often pedal ‘natural’ or ‘drug-free’ remedies for elevated cholesterol levels.” The anti-statin forces employ two distinct strategies, “statin denial, the proposition that cholesterol is not related to heart disease, and statin fear, the notion that lowering serum cholesterol levels will cause serious adverse effects.” Nissen admits that some patients will have statin-related adverse effects but “intolerance in many patients undoubtedly represents the nocebo effect.”

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