JUN 03, 2017 4:40 PM PDT

"Deprescribing" Cholesterol Drugs for Patients Nearing End of Life

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Scientists from Oregon State University are testing the waters for people with “life-limiting” illnesses such as cancer and heart disease who might feel comfortable going off of medications they take to manage cholesterol, a process researchers are now calling “deprescribing.”

Credit: Medical News Today

Oregon State scientists believe that deprescribing statins originally prescribed to regulate cholesterol levels could improve health outcomes for people nearing the end of their life, a time where enhancing quality of life is more important than ever.

Statins are able to reduce levels of cholesterol by blocking the liver enzymes that produce it. This reduction prevents plaque buildup on the lining of blood vessels that contributes to atherosclerosis, stroke, or heart attack. However, these drugs are also infamous for side effects like muscle pain, digestive problems, and “mental fuzziness.”

"There's a lot of concern that patients will feel like doctors are giving up on them if they start to discontinue some of their medications, that there's something comforting about continuing to take their medications, and this gives us some indication of what patients feel about the risks and benefits of deprescribing,” study researcher Jon Furuno explained. The research team provided a questionnaire for study participants to express their concerns.

There were nearly 300 people overall enrolled in the recent Oregon State study, with an average age of 72 and life expectancy of less than one year. A large majority were cancer patients, and some had heart disease or other life-limiting disease. The study aimed to analyze the safety and effects of deprescribing stains by taking some participants off of the drug and some continue the drug. Despite Furuno’s concerns, less than five percent of the participants were actually concerned about being taking off of their statins, in fact, they seemed optimistic about what taking less drugs could do for their quality of life.

"Hopefully this will help inform prescribers who might be tentative to address this topic with their patients," Furuno said about the study. "As a patient's prognosis changes and we think they have a relatively short lifespan left, it really requires risk/benefit re-examination of everything we're doing for them, medications and everything else. There may still be benefits, but have the benefits changed or has the risk/benefit ratio changed?”

Furuno’s study was published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.

Sources: Oregon State University, Mayo Clinic

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
APR 22, 2020
Cardiology
APR 22, 2020
COVID-19 Connected to an Increase Occurrence of Blood Clots
COVID-19 linked to cardiac issues  
APR 22, 2020
Microbiology
APR 22, 2020
First COVID-19 Death Happened in the US Far Earlier Than We Thought
It was thought that the first death in the US from SARS-CoV-2 happened in Washington State in late February, but autopsi ...
APR 23, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
APR 23, 2020
No Difference Between Indica and Sativa Cannabis Strains
Cannabis growers and sellers have defined different strains of cannabis as ‘indica’ or ‘sativa’ ...
APR 27, 2020
Cancer
APR 27, 2020
The Tumor Suppressor and its Regulator: An Indirect Oncogene
Oncogenes, mutations in genes that promote cancer growth, have long been easy targets for cancer research due to the dir ...
APR 29, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
APR 29, 2020
Move and Detect : Diagnosis of Neonatal Sepsis Using Fluorescent Micromotors
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection injures i ...
MAY 24, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 24, 2020
Common Chemicals May Contribute to Obesity
Several explanations have been proposed to answer the question of why obesity has been on the rise for many years in the ...
Loading Comments...