Archive for December 9th, 2015

Bad News Causes Deaths?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 // Uncategorized

We are all inundated by medical news. It is all around us. Most people who hear it give it equal weight, but there is a wide variation in the quality and accuracy of it. This study shows the negative effect that medical news can have. People with heart disease stop their statins, medication which can prolong life and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke because of this negative news and some die as a result of this.

Negative news about statins is causing early death for heart disease patients
University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences News, 12/08/2015

Researchers in Denmark have found that negative news stories about statins are linked to some people choosing to discontinue their statin treatment, which, in consequence, is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and dying from heart disease. The study, which was published in the European Heart Journal, shows that for every negative nationwide news story about the cholesterol–lowering group of medicines, there was a nine percent increased risk of people deciding to stop taking statins within six months of first being prescribed the drug. “We found that exposure to negative news stories about statins was linked to stopping statins early and explained two percent of all heart attacks and one percent of all deaths from cardiovascular disease associated with early discontinuation of statins,” said Professor Borge Nordestgaard, Chief Physician at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. During the period from 1995 to 2010 the proportion of people on statins increased from less than one percent to 11%, while early statin discontinuation increased from six percent to 18%. The number of all statin–related news stories (positive, neutral and negative) increased from 30 per year in 1995 to 400 in 2009. In addition to the increased risk from negative news stories, the researchers found that the risk of early statin discontinuation increased per increasing calendar year (4%), increased daily dose (4%), being male (5%), living in cities (13%) and for being of non–Danish ethnicity (67%). In contrast, the risk of discontinuation decreased after exposure to positive news stories about statins (8%), and having cardiovascular disease or diabetes at the time the statins were first prescribed (27% and 9% respectively). In this study the researchers find that close to one in six of individuals discontinue therapy at an early stage, and this represents a major problem for cardiovascular health. These findings suggest a need to develop ways of increasing people’s adherence to statin therapy during the first six months in particular. “Positive news stories tend to be evidence–based, explaining how statins can prevent heart disease and early death, while this is often not the case for negative news stories, which tend to focus on relatively rare and moderate side effects. Considering how often there is a negative statin–related news story, we detected a surprisingly strong association: an increase of nine percent in early discontinuation for each nationwide story. If negative statin–related news stories did not exist at all, then early statin discontinuation would decrease by 1.3% in the whole of the population,” prof Nordestgaard concluded.

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