Statins as a group are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. The potential side effects from their use makes them also one of the more controversial medications out there as well.
They do not supply anything the body needs. They do prevent production of too much of what your body does use.
There is little doubt that these drugs do work. Their job is to lower your cholesterol levels. They accomplish this task by blocking an enzyme in the liver abbreviated as HMG-CoA which produces cholesterol. Our bodies need cholesterol but like most things, too much isn't good for us.
Newer statins have been shown to reduce LDL counts, (the bad cholesterol), by 50% while raising HDL numbers, (the good cholesterol), by over 10%. They have been shown to lower the very dangerous triglycerides by 15%. Triglycerides are a form of fat in blood cells.
However statistics can be misleading. Part of the controversy is that 50% reduction number. There is growing evidence that cholesterol numbers are not the best indicator of heart disease risk factors. Which calls into question the long term value of statins.
This family of prescribed medication is effective in improving the formation of cells that line the arterial walls. This is very important because damage to the arterial walls begins the process of plaque formation as your body attempts to heal itself.
This last point is very important. The ability of the body to heal is an amazing thing. If we just help a little, it will keep running without many problems.
Some common names would be Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor and Crestor. There are also several generic brands available. Mevostatin is a natural option produced in red rice yeast. You can find it in nearly any health store. Be sure to check the label. Some red rice yeast produced in China was laced with actual statin to further reduce cholesterol counts. This caused overload in some people.
So with all this good news, why is statin use so controversial? What is the down side? And does everyone with high cholesterol need to take these drugs? All good questions. We'll look at each one.
Research seems to point to several specific risks and possible areas of concern. Liver damage and myopathy are two possible effects of stain use. Possible is the operative word. These drugs don't have universal effects on patients.
The liver is an amazing organ. It is very adaptable and can actually reverse man-made damage such as cirrhosis if that disease is caught in the early stages. Statins seem to cause the liver in some patients to overproduce enzymes. This can be cured by getting off the drug. According to results published by part of the Mayo Clinic staff, this condition is pretty rare.
Myopathy which is muscle pain can actually break down and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin has been known to cause kidney damage. A little further down we'll give you some steps to avoid this whole issue.
There are more health challenges associated with statin use. And newer guidelines being promoted would add many more people to the prescription line for this drug. I've added a full page about possible side effects as well as some information about bigger causes of cardiovascular system damage than cholesterol numbers.
So you see the good things and some possible bad results. Does everyone with high cholesterol need to take statins? That question gets a resounding "no." Much will be determined by family history, lifestyle and other medical factors. Heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and kidney disease are all inter-related.
In his book, "Fix It", Dr. Chauncey Crandall lays out several steps to avoid the need for statins and a way to get off them if you do need them for a while. He is very big into aiding the body in healing itself whenever possible.
Here are those steps...
Build a relationship with your doctor. This seems too obvious, but I can tell you that in the past I have been at times a little less than fully forthcoming with doctors. I figured it wasn't a big deal. It is a big deal.
Lifestyle change is the single best way to avoid prescription drugs and the very best way to get off them. A good doctor will work to get you off the drugs unless you fall into that group that has no choice.
Get serious about food. You will have to face the facts that better diet is paramount. Without a better food plan, you will not get off statins. No chance. Plant based foods must become a part of your heart healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet will provide a comprehensive guide to better health.
Permanent weight loss must be the end goal. Not temporary and then rubber band back to the comfort food weight. Strive for what you weighed as a senior in high school. Unless you were already too heavy at that time.
Move. Sitting and thinking as you eat a bag of chips won't get you off statins. Walking one hour per day just might. And it will help you in so many other ways. If you are lucky enough to have a pool, swimming is great for this goal as well.
Sleep and restful sleep, sleep, sleep. This was an old commercial jingle. But sleep really is the way your body handles stress on its own.
Involve someone you trust in your plan. Tell them what you are attempting and what you will achieve from it. Let them know it will be a process and any help they can provide will be appreciated. This one is hard for me. I keep things to myself far too much.
Just below is a source of more information about this topic. You'll find some common questions along with the correct answers. You might be surprised by some of the answers. After each question, you can click on a link for more in depth details.
Yes, statins do work to lower cholesterol. But cholesterol isn't the biggest indicator of heart risk. They do cause side effects. Some serious and some maybe just irritating. But most important, for the majority of people, their use is not required or at least the reasons can be reversed allowing you to drop them. It takes work. Not hard work, but mental toughness. The result seems to me to be well worth it.
Get a copy of "Fix It." You'll find much more about statins, cholesterol and ways you can work with doctors to be prescription drug free and very healthy. Please click the link below if you'd like a copy of this book.
What do you think?