Who are we protecting? A follow-up to the AHA's new cardio standards

Written by Alyssa Clark To follow-up with the proposed guidelines with the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (AC...

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|Dec 17|magazine7 min read

Written by Alyssa Clark

 

To follow-up with the proposed guidelines with the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the public, healthcare officials and the average-everyday Joe are disappointed with the newly released standards— and I can’t say that I’m not right there with them.

The Huffington Post shares my distaste with these newly proposed guidelines, understanding that there is no “one-size fits all mentality” when approaching the world of healthcare. “The guidelines propose a vast expansion of the use of statins in healthy people, recommending them for about 44 percent of men and 22 percent of healthy women between the ages of 40 and 75” reports Dr. Roberts of the Huffington Post. The AHA is a nonprofit organization which prides itself on building healthier lives for the public and protecting them from any form of cardiovascular disease, but interestingly the funds have been quite high for the AHA as of late.

Major pharmaceutical companies, drug companies have generously donated to the AHA as of late in sums as large as $1 million; the AHA released its 2011-2012 financial statement reporting that there was a $521 million total in donations from non-government and non-membership groups. As long-suspected that the AHA was going to embrace relationships between the drug companies to help them increase their profits from statins, we can now see this unfortunate plan coming to fruition. If the obvious financial aspect of this deal wasn’t enough, it was recently proven that the AHA’s online calculator over predicts the risk for cardiac disease by 75 to 150 percent.

Companies like Abbott, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer are guilty of these donations to the AHA, and are allowing the perpetuation of these obvious misconceptions to plague the minds of concerned individuals or those already affected by cardiac disease. The Huffington Post interesting comments on the issue by saying, “In 2010, AHA received $21,570 from statin maker AstraZeneca to run an AHA course about"emerging strategies with statins" at the Discovery Institute of Medical Education and almost $100,000 for learning projects including "debating controversial topics in cardiovascular disease." The AHA defended the deceptively marketed and controversial cholesterol drug Vytorin. Did that have anything to do with the $2 million a year the AHA was taking from marketer Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals?

Is the public health sector living in some Neo-version of Brave New World? Where the presentation of the “facts” are skewed and just plain wrong? The widely debated issues surrounding this maneuver by the AHA brings, demonstrates yet another issue within the politics of the healthcare industry. When will the public know which information to trust? Which companies are looking out for their best interests? The fact remains, that sometimes even doing your homework about a health-related condition can lead to unsatisfying answers.