The Philosophy of Lipitor
We recently had a patient who came to see us for high blood pressure. They had been placed on high blood pressure medication and also Lipitor, a statin drug used to lower blood cholesterol levels. He was concerned about taking so much medication in an ongoing manner and had a goal to get off the medications as quickly as possible.
After an examination that discovered that his high blood pressure was an effect caused by an inefficient nervous system connection, we commenced care on a trial basis. Several weeks later, our patient went back to his medical doctor for a recheck. Not surprisingly, our patient was deemed ‘normal’ by his medical doctor.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Even though our patient had a body that was functioning normally again, and needed no help from the outside any longer, his medical doctor told him to stay on the medication, ‘just in case’.
‘What?’, asked our patient. ‘You sent me to a Chiropractor to get my pressure taken care of, and now it is. Why do I have to keep taking the medication?’
‘Well, you don’t need it, but keep taking it, just in case.’ said the medical doctor.
This mentality, this thought process, this way of thinking is the interesting part. When did this happen? When did it become okay, or normal to be taking medications daily, for the rest of your life, with no particular reason or need? Our grandparents didn’t do this? They went to the doctor, and got on medications as a last resort. Our parents didn’t take drugs as a lifestyle enhancement. It seems that it has only been over the past 15 years or so that doctors have become okay with patients being on medications for the rest of their lives. Medications that have significant side effects. Side effects that worsen the longer that the drugs are taken. This patient was getting no benefit at all from taking these drugs, and yet the side effects were being ignored and dismissed entirely. Who would do this? Who would take a drug without getting any benefit? Worse yet, what doctor would give a drug to a patient, knowing the patient is getting no benefit, and yet all the risk of a side effect?
I have an answer. I have a theory at least how and why this occurs all the time, everywhere in our country everyday. I think that side effects have become such an integral part of our health care system now, accounting for a ridiculously high percent of ER admissions, and needed hospitalizations, that they are deemed just part of the process. Not even an adverse reaction now. Just a ‘normal’ part of healthcare. Doctors and patients aren’t concerned any longer if they will have side effects. They know they will have side effects! The fear has been removed. Knowing that you will have a problem removes the fear of if you will have a problem. I think we are more afraid of the unknown than of the known. Even if the known is a side effect of a drug that you don’t need. Even if the side effect is lethal. We all know someone who has had a reaction to a drug. It’s not unusual. It is so common, I think that the doctors that treat patients for these side effects don’t even consider it a problem anymore. They have lost the difference between ‘normal’ and ‘common’. Side effects are so common now, so frequent, the impression is that they are ‘normal’. This is not the case.
Our patient did not continue to take the drugs.