An increasingly vocal group of cardiologists is arguing that too many women are taking the cholesterol-lowering statins unnecessarily, The New York Times reports.
New medical guidelines issued last year may double the number of Americans who are told to take these cholesterol-lowering drugs. But the recommendations don’t distinguish patients by gender, and some cardiologists believe that’s a mistake.
“If you’re going to tell a healthy person to take a medicine every day for the rest of their life, you should have really good data that it’s going to make them better off,” said Rita Redberg, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of California-San Francisco, and the editor of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Lowering cholesterol should not be not an end in itself, she told The Times, and cholesterol may not play the same role in heart disease in women as in men.
“You can have high cholesterol and still be really healthy and have a low risk of heart disease,” she said.
Although women represent more than half of the U.S. population, they have been underrepresented in clinical trials of statins. As a result, evidence on the benefits and risks for women is limited.