A TV program recently broadcasted on the Franco-German public television network ARTE entitled ‘The big bluff’, considered the link between cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and the use of statins. According to the program, there is no relation between blood cholesterol levels and CVD and they see cholesterol as the ‘ideal villain’ in CVD through a series of ‘approximations’.
François Schiele and Steen D Kristensen comment on this TV program in the European Heart Journal. They write that the program encouraged physicians and patients to interrupt lipid-lowering treatments and statins, and to avoid blood lipid assessments, and that recommendations issued by professional societies like ESC are inappropriate and influenced by conflicts of interests.
ESC published a press release immediately after the TV program, criticizing its content. “This broadcast is dangerously irresponsible,” said Fausto Pinto in the press release, immediate past president of the ESC. “After antibiotics, statins may have contributed more to prolonging life expectancy than any other type of medication."
Considering the cardiac events and death that patients who stop taking their statins are more likely to suffer, it is necessary to counteract the potential harmful effects of statin naysayers. Schiele and Kristensen state that the position of the TV program is “astounding and shocking because it is in total opposition to the current state of scientific knowledge regarding the LDL—statin—cardiovascular disease triad. It is now established that there is not only a link between LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease but in fact that LDL cholesterol is a proven causal factor of atherosclerosis.”
Analysis of almost 25000 patients found that a reduction of 1 mmol/L in LDL-c was associated with 20% reduction of major vascular events and it is also associated with a significant mortality benefit. Indeed, a linear relationship exists between LDL-c reduction and CV event reduction, even (safely) at very low LDL-c levels.
Schiele and Kristensen note important potential negative consequences of the disinformation broadcasted on ARTE on the public opinion:
- negative repercussions for the doctor–patient relationship, which relies on a basis of trust
- major impact on prevention treatments, as it may prompt patients to discontinue their treatment without medical advice. This can lead to major clinical consequences, not least of which is death, myocardial infarction and stroke. Such effects of negative news stories on statin therapy have been reported on previously Denmark, France).
“It’s time to set the record straight because the repercussions for the misinformed are potentially catastrophic,” write Schiele and Kristensen.