I don’t worry as much about people’s cholesterol level, I worry about their overall risk of heart disease. Too many practitioners are fixed on just LDL cholesterol and this leads to the overuse of statin drugs.
There are two common treatment approaches:
1) “Treat-to-target”–an approach that uses statins to force LDL cholesterol to less than 70 for high-risk patients and no higher than 130 for people not at risk
2) “Tailored treatment”–an approach that gives far less importance to LDL level, while weighing multiple risk factors to develop a variety of treatments including exercise, diet modification, etc.
Tailored treatment will prevent more coronary artery disease events while treating fewer people with high-dose statins.
Years ago, the Framingham Heart Study showed that total cholesterol levels below 160 caused heart disease problems to RISE! So it’s been well known for decades that low lower lowest is not good better best.
There is research on subjects in their 70’s that found elevated levels of total cholesterol were linked with REDUCED dementia risk in their later 70s. And elevated cholesterol throughout their 70s was associated with reduced dementia risk throughout their 80s.
Let’s talk about natural alternatives to the high cholesterol issue and reducing the risk of dementia as we age.
Last year, University of Glasgow researchers examined the results of 13 large statin trials that included more than 91,000 subjects. Results showed that for every 255 patients treated with statins for four years, one would develop type 2 diabetes, apparently as a consequence of statin use.
About 20 million people take statins in the U.S. So, one case of type 2 diabetes for every 255 patients comes to well over 78,000 people who will develop or already have developed diabetes as a statin side effect. (And you can forget about the “four years” business because statin users are users-for-life.)
For high cholesterol, I advocate therapeutic lifestyle changes – diet, nutrition & exercise. This is my first line of therapy for clients with high cholesterol and/or Type 2 Diabetes. First, lets see if we can control it with medical foods such as UltraMeal by Metagenics along with diet and exercise. I see statins being prescribed with resultant cases of muscle damage, kidney damage, liver damage, and cognition damage. We should put a stop to statin overuse, and prescribe the drug when appropriate and for the right reasons.
I have a lot of Type 2 diabetic patients who are looking for ways to control it better. I have seen consistently good results with low-carb Paleo diets.
I hear lots of stories from patients who have total cholesterol around 200 – 250. There GP doctors want them to go on cholesterol lowering meds. I am not in favor of this because from what I read, higher cholesterol is associated with increased longevity (lowest all-cause mortality and not just on cardiovascular mortality) especially in women.
People need to understand that cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease; inflammation does and this is how statins, when they work, work. When I get clients on an anti-inflammatory diet (no sugar, grains, legumes, and the right oils) and using UltraInflamX or UltraMeal by Metagenics it simply allows the body to go back to its natural, non-inflammatory state.
There are some pretty powerful statements made about this topic such as the ASCOT study, the largest randomized clinical study of statin effectiveness in women, found that the women who took Lipitor, developed more heart attacks than women in the group given placebo. In this ASCOT study, 2,000 women were included among 10,000 patients having elevated blood pressure and at least three other cardiovascular risk factors.
Statins have only been shown statistically beneficial to men who have had a previous coronary event (statins reduce the rate of subsequent events). This is why I’m still a believer in using UltraInflamX or UltraMeal along with diet recommendations.
Research has shown that statin use after a heart attack helps prevent a second heart attack. The evidence reveals that this margin of protection is very small, but it’s there.
What you’ll never hear is this: Maybe that margin isn’t due to the statin. Maybe it’s actually due to healthy changes heart attack victims often make in their lives.
Daily exercise, a better diet, a renewed positive outlook from a “second chance” on life–could these changes provide the protection that the mainstream medical crowd is quick to attribute to statins?
Diet, nutrition, and exercise – that is what my teachings & practice is really all about!
Here’s my plan. Load patients up with high quality, powerful medical foods, improve food plans, and get them moving around more. We’ll watch the positive results happen and celebrate when clients can decrease the medication they are on.
See, I don’t see serious adverse side effects from the medical foods I recommend. I have lots of patients with type 2 diabetes and narrowing of the arteries. Many of them are able to decrease there dosages of the cholesterol-lowering statins and ACE inhibitors. My recommendations and efforts help get the numbers there doctors want: lower LDL and lower BP.
I am treating human beings, not a compilation of numbers. I don’t think high drug doses is the answer. I am not opposed to drug therapy but I know type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can be helped with three months of adjusting to proper doses of protein, fats, carbs and exercises.
Are you going to sign up for a lifetime of statin use? Or are you going to try alternative therapy?
Cholesterol is a necessary part of almost all metabolic processes in the body. Without it we could not survive.
In the early 80s there were some landmark studies linking cholesterol levels to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Since then, all kinds of conclusions have been made as to what this means, what numbers are “normal”, and how those numbers change depending on your medical history.
Drug companies have invented a class of drugs called statins that lower plasma cholesterol levels from 10-50%, depending on the type of drug given and the amount. Statins are prescribed so frequently that they are now a multi-billion dollar industry.
Unfortunately, they also have side effects that can be devastating to some patients. In my practice, I have had to take many patients off their statin drugs because of side effects such as muscle pains, aching, and fatigue. In addition, the medical community has no long term studies (20-30 years) to see what the consequences of taking statins will be.
Here are some facts to keep in mind.
•There has been no evidence that having low cholesterol reduces the risk of first time heart attack. In fact, half of those with a first time heart attack have normal cholesterol levels. In a study of 10,000 people comparing those taking a statin to those that did not but maintained their weight and exercised, there was no difference in outcome of any kind.1 Did you get that?
•There is LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). Statins lower both, and the problem is we want to see HDL increased. In fact, it seems that heart health results more from increasing HDL than lowering LDL. Drug companies are scrambling to find a drug that raises HDL, but so far without success. Only exercise and the B vitamin, niacin, have been proven to raise HDL.
My personal heart disease prevention plan looks like this:
1. High intensity exercise on a consistent & regular basis
2. A diet consisting of natural foods — high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in trans fats
3. EPA-DHA Fish oil supplements, 3-4 grams daily (Metagenics EPA-DHA 720)
4. Multi-vitamin/mineral supplements (Metagenics Wellness Essentials for Men)
5. UltraMeal shake (2 scoops per day) by Metagenics
6. Coenzyme Q10 (Metagenics NanoCell Q10 200 mg daily)
7. Grass-fed beef to increase omega-3 fatty acids
8. Green tea extract for extra antioxidants (Metagenics Celepro)
Instead of rushing to take a statin, find a physician you trust and take some time to talk to him or her about your particular situation. You may find that with a proper diet, nutritional supplements, and moderate exercise, your risk of a heart attack from all causes can be dramatically reduced.
1. JAMA December 18, 2002;288:1998-3007,3042-3044.
2. NEJM November 27, 1997 Vol 337 number 22:1631-1633.