Monday, December 9, 2013
Number Needed to Treat
Wikipedia states the number needed to treat (NNT) is an epidemiological measure used in assessing the effectiveness of a health care intervention, typically a treatment with medication. The NNT is the average number of patients who need to be treated to prevent one additional bad outcome (i.e. the number of patients that need to be treated for one to benefit compared with a control in a clinical trial). It is defined as the inverse of the absolute risk reduction. It was described in 1988. The ideal NNT is 1, where everyone improves with treatment and no one improves with control. The higher the NNT, the less effective is the treatment.
Recently, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology gave out new guidelines on the preventing atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults. These guidelines suggest the most "Americans" being on statin cholesterol lowering drugs. This has created some controversy.
NOT being an expert, I cannot tell you whether these are ideal suggestions, but as a consumer there is a question to be asked. How many people need to take these medications for life to make it a valuable endeavor?
All medications include cost, side effects, and compliance by the patient.
Conclusion- ask your provider and/or pharmacist for all chronic medications, what is the number needed to treat to obtain benefit from these ongoing therapies. Once you know the number, work with your provider to assess your risk and need for any and all medications.