The dr wants to see my husband about going on statins! Wonder what others here think?

He's 83 yrs and in quite reasonable health but with the usual aches and pains of old age. He takes a cocktail of tablets each day for Myasthenia gravis [had this about 10 yrs ago] and for some digestive problems which do keep him well on the whole and one or 2 smaller ailments.

Recently he had been waking up with a heavy feeling in his chest, 'like a plank of wood' he said; this disappeared after breakfast and I don't think is a problem at the moment. Saying nothing to me he made an appointment with the nurse for an ECG. She was dismissive and said it was for the dr to decide on that procedure, however she did it and said all was fine. She also did a blood test [non fasting] and took his blood pressure. A short while later he was summoned for another blood test and after that yet another ECG. This ECG was also fine but he didn't think to ask for the blood test results. The nurse went off to see the dr with the results and then told him that the dr wants to see him to discuss statins. As he never had a fasting blood test I wonder whether his cholesterol was ever checked and even if it was how relevant is it.

With all the fuss about statins in the media he is rather anti the idea but has the appointment for next week and has asked me to go along too. My own feeling is that it's the recent NICE rules about having a Qrisk of 10%> that is guiding this. Of course anyone of 83 is going to have a sky high 'risk'. [My own risk is shortly to be 14% - up from 13% and my dr said she had to offer them to me but I declined them - how ridiculous is this ruling!]

He has never had high blood pressure, diabetes or any heart related problems, they don't run in his family. I feel any advantage of taking statins will be outweighed by potential side effects, so why go down that track.

20 Replies

  • He,

    Please ask your Nurse / GP for full blood test results to be printed out for you. They have the facility to do this. you need to fully understand the blood test results. Once you have the numbers you can post it here and ask for help. Statin as primary medication is some thing to think about but after a heart problem, as a secondary medication it is a must to help with blood flow.

    Qrisk calculation? NICE rules?

    Please ask for NHS health check if you have not had one before. The electro cardiogram the GP practice machine do is very simple. you can ask for a electro cardiogram for a cardiologist, you may have to wait for it. There is echo cardiogram as well the cardiologist can do for heart problems.

    The best you can do is go for walks to keep active and hale a look at your food intake, at the age of 83, I am not sure what you can change in your food intake. If the cholesterol is high please try and control it without statin.

    It is possible the problem he had may have been due the food intake, make a not of food intake if there is any change.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks Bala, will have to wait until next week to ask about the blood tests though. As for the Qrisk calculation without a cholesterol number it's impossible to do. Age alone sends the 'risk' into the 30's !!! He's done pretty well up to now and eats well enough. Nothing perfect of course but then which of us is? And he smokes too, just one small cigar each evening but he's not going to stop that I don't think! They say these risk things give you a figure for ten years hence. He'll be 93 then and probably rather not be on this earth!!

  • Hello,

    Please let your husband enjoy whatever he wants to drink, eat and smoke!

    Forget about medication and calculators continue with your healthy living, have a chat with your GP to get a better understanding on cholesterol and heart problems.

    Having supper earlier than normal time may help with some body pain!

    I am 67 towards the end of the year I will be 68. I am enjoying my food and drinks.

    Life style change has helped me to see things better. I try and go to the gym at least four days a week. A fitter person now days. Only time will tell

  • You mention that your husband has myasthenia gravis. That's a muscle condition isn't it and you don't say how it affects your husband.

    This is only a personal opinion, but I do think GP's should ask about muscle conditions before prescribing statins. In my opinion, they don't as they are so focussed on the heart aspect. I couldn't tolerate any statin but nobody was interested in what my mum died of which was motor neurone disease. I can't get the link out of my mind and certainly wasn't going to take a drug that mimicked the symptoms of that horrible condition.

  • Hi Gardengnome

    Aliwally makes a very important point. There have been some clinical studies suggesting that taking statins may not be a good idea if you have myasthenia gravis. Have a Google.

    Without any underlying heart problems it does seem to be 'over the top' to be suggesting statins when you are in your 80s. Good luck with sorting this out.

  • gardengnome42

    Its not what we think. On here there are those who hate statins and those who take them.

    There those who have side effects and those who dont.

    But in the end it is his decision. Clearly he was worried to make an appointment. Should he then not take the advice given. If so then why make the appointment at all.

    Listen then make a judgement. Ask about the side effects and what they will do if he gets them. Millions don't get them. Much fewer do.

    My dad who is 87 doesn't take them because of side effects. My mum does take them and no side effects. I take them with no side effects. So no clear picture. Ask what they will do for him. and as Bala says ask to see the results and ask them to explain them. And make sure the doctor knows about his Myasthenia gravis as others have said.


    Statins contra indicated in myasthenia gravis as they may increase muscle weakness.

    Maybe show you GP (if they don't object to patient found information on the internet!!).

    Maybe he/she will discuss the pros and cons, let's hope so.

  • Thanks all of you for your helpful replies. His myasthenia gravis was actually 6 years ago, not 10 as I said earlier, and it affected his eyes mainly: the lids drooped badly and he developed double vision. A visit to a neurologist diagnosed the Myasthenia gravis and put him on Pyrostigmine - after a few months the symptoms cleared up and he was back to normal. He has to take the pyrostigmine for the rest of his life. [Googling 'statins and MG' together it sounds like a very bad idea to take them, thank you Penel and Aliwally for pointing it out.] I think he was very fortunate in having the myasthenia diagnosed so quickly and having it treated so promptly when I read other stories on google.

    Without seeing the blood test printouts - and I'm not sure I'd understand all of the results - I don't know whether they tested his cholesterol. I do know they didn't do a fasting test so could they do this accurately without? Even if they did and it was higher than NICE stipulates - so what? Haven't I read that the older you are the higher it should be? NICE are very much into box ticking and 'one size fits all' I feel.

    Andyman, he was worried enough to make an appointment for an ECG and when that was fine he felt better!! However he is always compliant with drs advice - unlike me who wants to know the how and the why of all they say. So far he hasn't actually seen the dr, it was the nurse who said he wants to see him re statins after she showed the dr the ECG results. He's asked me to go with him next week. Without a printout of the blood tests it's hard to judge. Good advice to ask what benefit statins would give him.


  • Thanks Aliwally, I'll definitely print out the info and show it to the dr when we go. It is really helpful to get this advice and at least he can weigh up the pros and cons of statins. At least the dr will know that he isn't a pushover on the statins!

  • Let us know how your husband gets on at the GP's.

    This is slightly tongue in cheek but do you think there is anybody in the UK over 40 who has a cholesterol level that would satisfy NICE !!

  • Will do, he's preparing a list of questions to ask . As to your second question - probably not !!

  • I would say to absolutely refuse to take the statins. I think at your age or any age they will do more harm than good. I am now 80 years old and my cholesterol has always been over 200, at one time was 260 and just last month was 235. The doctor insisted that I take them 15 years ago and I tried but had so many side effects that I refused to try any other, he said he could give me some medication for the pains in my bones and joints that they were causing, so I said OK, so he gave me an arthritis med that gave me all kind of stomach problems, he then gave me Nexium for the stomach problems, the Nexium made my mouth so sore that I could not eat. After that I absolutely refused to take another statin ever. The doctors make you think that you will die if you don't take a statin. Statins are so over-rated. My sister-in-law is now crippled from taking Lipitor for five years, this was confirmed. What happens to him at his age won't be because he didn't take the statins. My husband is 85 and has had three heart attacks, one was open heart surgery and the others he just had stents put in. His cholesterol has never been over 160. Why mess up a good thing that you have going by taking another medication. Enjoy the rest of your life without this terrible med.

  • My feeling entirely nurselady, and his too I think on this issue. In fact he almost cancelled the drs appt but then thought he had better just hear what he had to say, given that he's had blood tests done and so far has no idea what they say.

    Are you in America I wonder as your cholesterol numbers don't mean much to me in the UK?

    I wonder whether drs are paid a bonus for every person they put onto statins!!

  • Please go to the doctors to get the printed results, this is for you to know the numbers. Even if the DR write a prescription for statin just take but do not go to the chemist to take the statin, I do this some times, as the Dr say do not cash it!.

    At your age and even any age, relax and continue enjoying life.

    Write down all the questions that you want to ask and if possible write down the answers.

    Ask questions on the existing medication and what will be the reaction to statin if both are taken together.

    Good luck.

  • Hi gardengnome, Thought I should share that a drooping eyelid with double vision was one symptom which I experienced while on statins in case your husband does try them and seemingly has a recurrence of myasthenia. I agree with the others. Quality of life is more important.

  • I am 55 with family history of high cholesterol but no early deaths. I went on statins for 18 months and had to give them up due to flu like symptoms. The doc said I could think about it for the next few years then decide as statins work over a long period of time, so waiting a few years to decide wouldnt make much difference to me. So cant really see the point of your husband taking them at 83!

  • As people age and have all kinds of discomfort, doctors feel that they have to come up with something so statins have fallen into this category. While statins can bring Cholesterol numbers down, it starts other issues like Diabetes II, muscle/leg cramps, fatigue, etc. I am a heart patient having MCI at 47 and still question the benefit. My mother, just passed at 96. I oversaw her care. My opinion is: skip the statins, take an (81) aspirin, increase CQ-10 for oxygen help and eat organic coconut oil instead of butter, grape-seed for frying, and Olive Oil after cooking to prevent losing the benefit, or dip toast in. Eat fruits and vegs and stay away from saturated fats. He should be able to enjoy the rest of his life without medication side effects! Heart Patient, Past Care-taker, friend

  • Thank you all for your replies, this is where I'm at now: I managed to get a printout of his latest blood test results from the surgery: a neighbour who is a nurse explained it.

    His cholesterol looks fine; this was - total 4.9, HDL 1.5 and ratio 3.3.[apparently this is now done without fasting but you don't get the LDL or trigs.]

    It states 'Full Blood count - No significant abnormality', maybe 'significant' is the key word!

    His serum vitamin B12 is rather low and the serum ferritin [iron?] also.

    The main problem appears to be creatinine and GFR which is either too high or too low - not vastly but when the numbers are put into an equation it comes out at CKD stage 3.

    It would seem that one is more likely to die of a stroke or heart attack with stage 1, 2 or 3 than progress to stage 4 or 5, hence the statin on offer I suppose. It states 'Full blood count - No significant abnormality'.

    However as I see it his cholesterol is relatively low and a statin would lower it further I imagine - so what advantage would there be?

    I suppose one has to take into account that he is 83 and not 43 and also has myasthenia gravis. He no longer has any symptoms of that but has to take pyritostigmine for life. As stated here by some MSG is a muscular disease and my feeling is it would be asking for trouble to take a statin.

    I shall be interested to hear what the doctor comes up with - Watch this space !!

  • Just to update, my husband had his appt with the dr today and I went with him to back him up re the statins. The dr looked at his screen, said husband had a 'risk' of 50% of having a heart attack or stroke in the next ten years, which would take him to 93 years ! - and a statin was indicated. He didn't say how he arrived at the figure but I know it was just a box ticking exercise and at 83 of course it was 'indicated' if NICE guidelines are anything to go by. The husband said he didn't want statins thanks. Dr said if he was 43 and not 83 it would probably be a good idea to take a statin and he didn't push the things at him.

    Not sure if the dr realised we had the printout of his latest blood tests so knew where he was coming from. Anyway his cholesterol was 4.9, ratio 3.3, HbA1c 38, BP 115/60 something. GFR figure were slightly high [or low] and a possible risk of low thyroid and to be retested in a year for that.

    What worries me is this isn't real doctoring it's just statinating the population. Why not just put the statins in the drinking water supply and be done!

  • no keep all drugs away from drinking water we would be poisend its the same has fluriede in the water who knows what harm it does

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