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Science, statin guidelines, syllogisms, and self-interest

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Three weeks ago, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines for the prescribing of statin drugs.

This was not a response to a newly discovered tsunami of coronary heart disease or to some overwhelming summary report of new research. Statin drugs have been used for 30 years for their benefits for lowering cholesterol levels, thought to offer reduction of risk for heart attack and stroke. Statins will now be recommended for people who have a “7.5 percent risk of heart attack/stroke over the next 10 years.” Experts in the field quickly estimated that the number of persons for whom statins should now be recommended will be increased by nearly 70 percent.

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