- Dr Mark Porter asks whether doctors can try too hard in the early detection of disease and investigates the overdiagnosis of hypertension. This week he discovers that as many as 3 million people who have been told they have high blood pressure may not actually have it - could you be one of them?
Asked if he shunned treatement and why he replied, "When the first trials came out suggesting you can effectively lower cholesterol I did think it was a good idea and then more and more evidence has accumulated showing that the amount of benefit you get from treating just an isolated cholesterol and ignoring all of the other things is a very poor way of judging it. Cholesterol is a risk factor but it is a minor risk factor."
He goes on to talk about the side effects of Simvastatin (muscle aches and pains), which cause people to give up exercise - which ultimately cause more harm than good. They go on to talk about focus on 'signs' rather than 'symptoms' and the general obsession with 'numbers'.
The program touches on the overdiagnosis of high blood pressure (and the new entity that is 'pre-high blood pressure' and 'pre-hypertension'; where people with normal blood pressure now find themselves in a medical category suggesting 'risk'.)
In fairness to many doctors, the 'worried well' seem to be driving much of this (see Inverse Care Law).