DATA SCALE

Faults & FoiblesBy 2014-06-17T18:57:19+00:00 On June 17th, 20140 Comments

 

For six years I took Pravastatin for high cholesterol, but my cholesterol level remained the same. When I began feeling terrible all over all the time with flu-like symptoms, I remembered the side effects of statins: muscular pain, tiredness and weakness. I was reminded that the drug was recommended for patients with multiple risk factors for heart and vascular disease.

When my doctor confirmed that I had no other risk factors associated with high cholesterol I told him I would stop taking Pravastatin because I believed it caused my symptoms, including a chronic dry cough. I said that after six months I wanted a blood test to see whether my cholesterol level was higher without statins.

When we looked at the blood test my doctor displayed a computer graph of my cholesterol test results, but it covered six years, not the last six months. It was practically a straight line. The tail end of the line, just one-twelfth of it depicted the last six months. I knew that a scale in years was useless for exposing moderate changes over just six months. Disappointingly, he didn’t understand the significance of scaling in order to read data correctly, nor did he know how to change the scale to display just six months.

Since my cough had subsided and I felt better now without statins, I said I would no longer take them. He advised me otherwise and I think he resented me refusing his advice.

I resented his lack of technical ability and scientific method in using data to measure the results of his treatment. He didn’t see the need to offer me proof. I now saw him as just another cheerleader on the statins-for-all bandwagon of big pharma. I do believe he was sincere, but misguided.

 

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