Medical Misinformation Causes Underuse of Statins

July 2, 2019 – The DCRI’s Ann Marie Navar, MD, PhD, writes that medical misinformation surrounding statins is causing patients to stop or avoid statins, missing out on a major opportunity to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Ann Marie NavarIn a recent Viewpoint piece published in JAMA Cardiology, the DCRI’s Ann Marie Navar said that the proliferation of medical misinformation around statins is causing often misguided fears about statins, leading patients to refuse or stop treatment.

“While there are true risks and side effects associated with statins, the popular media is abuzz with false reports about statin side effects,” Navar said. “The reality is that statins are one of the best studied, safest, and most effective medications we have to prevent heart disease.”

Navar likens the incorrect information about statins to the false perceptions that led to an anti-vaccination movement.

“Measles outbreaks are highly visible: a rash appears, public health agencies respond, headlines are made, and the medical community responds vocally,” she writes. “In contrast, when a patient who has refused a statin because of concerns stoked by false information has a myocardial infarction, the result is less visible. Nevertheless, cardiologists and primary care physicians observe the smoldering outbreak of statin refusal daily.”

In the piece, Navar advocates for clear and transparent communication so medical providers can establish trust with patients and fight against medical misinformation.