Pharmaceutical companies would like to see almost everyone on cholesterol lowering drugs, even those with normal levels of cholesterol on lab tests. (2) One big problem with this unhealthy marketing scheme is that cholesterol lowering statin drugs do not reduce heart attack and stroke in people with normal cholesterol levels. (3)
Another reason not to have everyone on cholesterol lowering drugs is that they are rift with side effects well beyond the common issue of body aches. For example, side effects from the cholesterol lowering drug Rosuvastatin include autoantibody attack, diabetes, cancer and dementia. (3,4,5,6)
Another life threatening side effect of statin drugs not mentioned by Dr. Decker is “…. that statin use is associated with a 52 percent increased prevalence and extent of calcified coronary plaque compared to non-users. Coronary artery calcification is the hallmark of potentially lethal heart disease!” (2,7)
Even the makers of cholesterol lowering drugs know they don’t work and acknowledge this in their product literature. For example, “The effect of PRALUENT [a new, non-statin cholesterol lowering drug] on heart problems such as heart attacks, stroke, or death is not known.” (8) Patient cost of this drug: $14,000 per year.
According to the American Heart Association cholesterol lab tests results are no longer useful in assessing patient cardiologic health and risk. (9) In other words, checking your cholesterol levels and most of the related cholesterol markers is a waste of time.
What to do?
Side effects aside, if you find an honest study linking a reduced incidence of heart attack and stroke with a statin drug, it is because that drug has an anti-inflammatory effect. As discussed, cholesterol and most of its constituents such as HDL and LDL are not the culprits. Inflammation is the culprit behind plaque buildup and subsequent heart attack and stroke.
Inflammatory bio-marker lab tests do exist, but don’t look to an MD for assistance on this score. You’ll need a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who has the functional medicine training and understanding that MD’s lack to order the correct inflammatory marker lab tests.
Even without lab testing you can address inflammation proactively. The biggest cause of inflammation in the body is poor diet, aggravated by stress, lack of exercise and other unhealthy lifestyle habits. There are many nutrients such as Turmeric (see website newsletter) with anti-inflammatory benefits. However, the majority of anti-inflammatory benefit comes from existing antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds found in a healthy diet. An organic Paleo diet with moderate intake of healthy grains including quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and rice is an example of a healthy diet for most people. For more information on this subject see my website newsletter on Cholesterol.
1. Decker Weiss, Naturopathic Medical Doctor, FASA, Fellow of the American Society of Angiology, Staff Cardiologist Arizona Heart Hospital 2000-2011, Leading Physician of the World 2013: International Association of Cardiologists and the International Association of Health Care Providers, American Heart Association Professional Member, American Heart Association Committee member: Translational Biology, Director of Artis Research Center for Health and Medicine (Harris Manchester College, Oxford). He is the first naturopathic physician to complete conventional internship, residency, and fellowship in a conventional medical system. Weiss trained in the Columbia Hospital system, the Arizona Heart Hospital, Phoenix, and the Arizona Heart Institute and is the founder of the Scottsdale Heart Institute. He is the first of his profession to speak and educate for the Cleveland Clinic.
4. Scientific American It's Not Dementia, It's Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs and Memory, Why cholesterol drugs might affect memory. Aug 19, 2010 By Melinda Wenner Moyer, This article was originally published with the title "Perspectives: It's Not Dementia, It's Your Heart Medication."
9. According to recent American Heart Association findings “ there was no good evidence to support the current target levels for LDL cholesterol”. Dr. Weiss’s translation of this finding is that there are no therapeutically valid cholesterol ranges anymore.