Gransnet forums


Aibu in questioning my mum's medication?

(36 Posts)
carosanto Fri 16-Aug-13 22:44:04

Staying for a few days with my 93 year old - and totally compos mentis - mum. She gets a call from her surgery, actually affiliated surgery, someone on reception. They inform mum that her last cholesterol count was a bit high and that 'they' were going to prescribe statins. Mum had the sense to query this, and 'they' said they'd send her a diet sheet. This duly arrived and turned out to be a Heart Foundation generalised booklet about cholesterol, and mum is doing everything right already, ie, lots of fruit, veggies etc, but admittedly not much vigorous exercise!

Now here's the thing. Yes, mum has diabetes which I believe to be an indicator for taking statins, but she also wears a full time catheter, suffers many infections as a result, has osteoporosis in her neck arms and shoulder and gets dreadful pain, and has arthritic hands. Given that muscle pain is a side affect of statins, might this not degrade her quality of life. Methinks that 'they' should be seeking answers to her existing problems, not sticking mum on powerful meds which may or maynot improve a condition she may/not be suffering from.

I wouldn't mind but this was not even a doctor calling her, and apparently 'their' tone bordered on the bullying.

AIBU to be concerned? Am I paranoid? And are there any gransnetters with experience, good or bad, of statins? Would appreciate any feedback.

gracesmum Fri 16-Aug-13 22:50:00

I would definitely question this. At your Mum's age, I cannot imagine that ANY new medication should be started after just a telephone message. I would agitate for an appointment with the doctor and go with her. I am sure statins do a lot of good for some people but suspect they are too easy to prescribe. Yes, ask more questions.

janeainsworth Fri 16-Aug-13 22:55:22

Completely agree Gracesmum.

merlotgran Fri 16-Aug-13 23:01:34

Yes you are right to be concerned. My mother was put on statins and the pains in her leg muscles was severe. She gradually lost the use of her legs and I blame her GP for not reviewing her meds despite my pleas. When patients are in their nineties and already have health issues what on earth is the point of prescribing something that will cause painful side effects?

Jendurham Fri 16-Aug-13 23:17:08

Statins are very interesting, Carosanto.
My husband was type 1 diabetic from when he was 11. After we moved up to Durham in 2009, his GP and the diabetic clinic kept trying to persuade him that he needed to be on statins. His cholesterol was 4.0 and they wanted it to be 3.9 or lower. The nurse at the surgery said that the only side effect was pain. As he had been in pain since he fell off a ladder in 1996 and fractured his spine, he declined.

This year I was put on statins after having an aortic dissection. I was in hospital for 20 days and was put on them the day before I came out.
When I asked what the extra tablet was, I was told it was statins. I asked why I had to take statins and was told that everyone else on the ward was on them. I reminded the nurse that the others on the ward all ate meat and probably had high cholesterol. I asked what mine was and she said she did not know, but I had to take the statins and talk to my GP.
My GP said that my cholesterol was 4.0. By this time my eyesight was going blurred, which is another side-effect of statins, so we agreed to reduce by half. My eyesight is still slightly blurred, but not as bad.
However, my GP said I did not need to take any medication if I did not want to! Having gone into hospital with only 1 item on my prescription and come out with 10, I find that rather disconcerting. And I am 30 years younger than your Mum.
One difference between my husband's time and mine is the new NHS system. I believe GPs were paid a premium for getting people on statins previously. Now they are not. Can anyone tell me if this is correct or not?

Eloethan Fri 16-Aug-13 23:38:53

Statins can have some very serious side effects if not monitored properly.

A few years ago there were reports in the papers that it was being considered that everyone over, I think, 50 should be on statins as a "precaution". This sort of blanket prescribing concerns me and but I'm sure drug companies are delighted when such initiatives are put forward.

LizG Sat 17-Aug-13 00:10:35

You are right to question this, it is too easy to hand out drugs these days and at your mother's age she seems to be managing pretty well without them. I take statins and the first ones I was given really caused major muscle problems. They were changed and things improved slightly but when you mix it up with arthritis it is difficult to know which causes what. It was someone on here who told me to take them in the evening, my doctor did not mention it and that improved the situation as well.

If you could go with your mother to see her doctor this might help to put both your minds at rest. Too much reliance is placed on reception staff and they have no medical training whatsoever.

Jendurham Sat 17-Aug-13 00:44:08

When my husband died his 90 year old mother was upset, so her GP put her on antidepressants. She had no idea where she was half the time, was falling asleep and falling over.
I told her she was allowed to be upset. The last time she saw him was on her 90th birthday, when he was so ill we had to have her party at our house, and he was taken to bed by our sons half way through the party.
So she stopped taking the tablets, and felt better after that.

I think I will go and see the local pharmacist and have a review of the medication I am on to see if I really need to take statins. I have so many side effects and there's no way you can tell which tablet they are from.
I take the statins at night because the side effects from them are better if you are in bed. I also take a CoQ10 tablet because statins robs your body of CoQ10 and you need that to create energy.

FlicketyB Sat 17-Aug-13 07:48:33

Carosanto you say your mother is 93 with other serious medical conditions. Raised cholesterol is a problem if diagnosed when you are in your 40s/50s, but at 93? It has no symptoms and, at her age, her life expectancy is unlikely to be compromised by raised cholesterol. If I was your mother I would refuse them.

I am more than 20 years her junior and have slightly raised cholesterol and have refused statins. All the medical evidence I could find showed that for women there was no good reason for lowering cholesterol unless there was a history of heart disease. There isn't so I do not take them. My doctor has made no attempt to persuade me to and even her suggestion that I take them was half-hearted and I suspect done more because she had to than from any real conviction.

LizG Sat 17-Aug-13 07:49:00

That's interesting to know Jendurham, will give it a try, thank you.

moomin Sat 17-Aug-13 08:15:42

My cholesterol was 5.9 last time I had it checked around a year ago, same as it was at a previous test some time before. On both occasions (by two different GPs) I was told as the ratios within the reading were good, no treatment was needed, just to keep up the healthy eating and exercise etc. Thank goodness I was never recommended statins!

Bez Sat 17-Aug-13 08:19:19

When my BIL was prescribed statins he became extremely bad tempered and felt generally unwell - that probably caused the ill humour. When DH was given them he lost muscle and strength and this caused him great upset that he was unable to do things he had previously found easy. He was also very irritable all the time and had pains in his limbs etc. Since stopping them he is much better.

Grannyknot Sat 17-Aug-13 08:30:36

I think (but am happy to be corrected) that prescribing statins is written in to the QOF (Quality Outcomes Framework) which in turn is part of the GMS (General Medical Services) contracts upon which GP practices are paid.

One thing is certain - statins are big business: "each year the UK spends £730 million on statins".

I am also a statin absconder/avoider!

janeainsworth Sat 17-Aug-13 08:38:08

You are right Moomin that it is the ratio of total cholesterol/HDL that is important, rather than the total itself.
This is from WebMD:
" If you have 3.5 mg of total cholesterol, or less, for every 1 mg of HDLs, then your cholesterol ratio is ideal. According to guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Programme in the US:

Total cholesterol should be 5.0 mmol/L or less.
LDL should be 3.0mmol/L or less after an overnight fast.
HDL should be 1.2mmol/L or more.
Total cholesterol/HDL ratio should be 4.5 or less.
However, if you have heart disease or diabetes total cholesterol and LDL target readings will be lower."

However, usually cholesterol tests are not done after fasting , and patients are only given the total reading and the advice to take statins given on this basis.
If I was told to take statins after a simple test I would insist on having the fasting reading done first.

Hunt Sat 17-Aug-13 10:45:09

There is no law that says you HAVE to take medicine. Ditch the statins. At age 93 as several people have said there is surely no need. I've stopped taking them and my muscles are so much better.

Mishap Sat 17-Aug-13 11:02:55

She should see her doc and have her meds reviewed - presciption by phone is not acceptable, particularly in the elderly who tend to be on a bit of a cocktail anyway.

Poppikok Sat 17-Aug-13 11:57:29

Wondered if this might be of interest

HildaW Sat 17-Aug-13 12:07:28

She feels healthy, she is 93 I'd favour the old 'if it aint broke etc etc...'

JessM Sat 17-Aug-13 12:11:38

Flicketyb your first paragraph is absolutely to the point. Statins are not used to treat a disease, they are so called "preventative medicine" designed to reduce statistical risk of coronary heart disease etc. I am guessing they are prescribed with extra enthusiasm to diabetics because they are at higher risk of chd. They do not, in an individual, prevent anything - they reduce the statistical risk.
It is just box ticking by someone in the surgery?
To be honest, and I don't mean to offend, but if I was in my nineties and in very poor health, a heart attack would be infinitely preferable way to go than many others i can think of. (the ones that involve a few weeks in hospital...).

Galen Sat 17-Aug-13 12:39:31

I wouldn't touch them! I have no idea what my cholesterol level is and at almost 69 couldn't care less!

Charleygirl Sat 17-Aug-13 13:30:13

I totally agree with HidaW, JessM and Galen. Let her enjoy her life without adding more aches and pains which she could well do without if she goes down the statin route.
The fewer drugs she takes, the fewer side effects. I only take drugs that keep me on this planet and if I do not take them there is a high chance I may leave it soon.
I agree with Galen and statins- age has a say in the matter, none of us is 30 and I stopped working 11 years ago so the fewer aches and pains I have which are not drug related the better.

FlicketyB Sun 18-Aug-13 16:39:09

We have a friend awaiting a liver transplant, their liver problems started when they were prescribed statins and it took 5 years to discover that the medical problems they suffered after that were caused by the statins. Alcohol plays no part in their liver problems.

carosanto Sun 18-Aug-13 18:58:06

Wow, thanks so much to all of you for your support. I am going to assume I am not BU and do my utmost to protect mum from what could be a really retrograde step in her health management. Bless her, she has enough to cope with, God knows I couldn't put up with what she has put up with on a daily basis. Thanks fellow Grandsnetters.

Stansgran Sun 18-Aug-13 20:02:31

The GP surgery was treating the figures not the patient. It is a very bad habit they have.

Deedaa Sun 18-Aug-13 20:13:40

I've been taking statins for about eight years now, with no side effects at all, but I can't see the point of prescribing them for a 93 year old with "slightly" raised cholesterol. I think anyone who's lived that long is coping with the way their body works pretty well on their own.