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Medical English / By Tom Secrest

The good side effects of statins / By Tom Secrest

All too often we hear about the negative side effects of medications. In many cases these are unpleasant features that we must tolerate in order to get the positive benefits of the drug. However, sometimes, has it turns out, as researchers study a drug that has been in use for many years, they discover that those taking the medication enjoy a second benefit, above and beyond the obvious benefit directly associated with the medicine.

Such appears to be the case for statins. Many people take statins even if they don’t know they take statins. Very often people know the names of the medicines they take, but don’t know the medicine’s category. I think it is safe to say that most people who take a medicine for high cholesterol or high triglycerides are probably taking a statin. Statin is the category name for drugs used to manage these common medical problems and depending on your information, lipid regulators are the 1st or 2nd most commonly prescribed drug.

So what is the added benefit? There are two main types of arthritis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Of the two, rheumatoid is more rare and is considered an autoimmune inflammatory disease. In a recent study (7 Sept. 2010), Dr. Gabriel Chodick reported that patients who were conscientious about taking their statins were at significantly lower risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, the better you were at remembering to take your daily medicine and the younger you were when you started taking the medication the lower your risks. The explanation may be quite simple. The evidence implies that statins can block aspects of the inflammatory process and since rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, it may effectively block the factors involved with the disease. This also explains why Dr. Chodick did not find any meaningful risk reduction in osteoarthritis, since it is not an inflammatory disease.

Like many drugs where the benefits are not outwardly visible, many people simply stop taking them, since they don’t see the reward. Blood pressure drugs present the same problem. Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure is painless and the only way to see that the controlling medicine is working is through routine measurements. As new benefits are discovered for drugs that usually must be taken daily for the rest of the person’s life, it provides new incentives. By taking your medicines as prescribed, you may be getting health benefits that you won’t know about for years to come. Just in case you aren’t convinced, Dr. Chodick’s research group, also recently published a paper, which showed that starting statin use earlier in life was associated with a decreased risk of cataracts.

So take heart and take your medicine; who knows what additional health benefits you may receive?


  • positive benefits – kladný přínos 
  • unpleasant features – nežádoucí účinky
  • conscientious about – svědomitý v
  • additionally – dodatečně
  • commonly – obvykle, běžně
  • explanation – vysvětlení
  • to imply – naznačovat, vyplývat
  • meaningful –  významný, signifikantní, stojící za zmínku
  • outwardly – navenek
  • reward – odměna, prospěch
  • painless – bezbolestný
  • measurement – měření
  • incentive – pobídka, podnět, stimul
  • convinced – přesvědčený
  • to take heart – dodat si odvahy


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