Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do Statin Drugs Prevent Heart Attacks?

Are eggs good for your heart?
Statin drugs are drugs that lower cholesterol levels in the blood. They have been on the market since the late 1980's.  So what does cholesterol have to do with heart disease?  Cholesterol is a natural part of the human body comprising some 25% of the brain.  Cholesterol is needed in the metabolism of hormones.  Why, then, has cholesterol become the enemy?  It all started some 50 years ago with a guy named Ancel Keys who performed a study of some 16 communities in 7 countries in which he followed 12,000 men for 20 years.  Keys study actually consisted of 22 countries but he cherry picked the countries to "prove" saturated fats and cholesterol were the villain in heart disease.  Had he included all 22 countries, his results would have proven no such correlation between heart disease and saturated fats.  So for 50 years most people have altered their diets by eating less meat, butter, eggs, coconut oil, and palm oil in the false hope of lowering their risk of heart disease.  Well, I have news for you.  My father had total total cholesterol of 170 when he died at the age of 61 from a massive heart attack. His low cholesterol did not save him.  And it will not save you.  

Another reason cholesterol has become the enemy is the cholesterol or plaque found in arteries of those with blocked arteries. As strange as this may seem, although cholesterol is found in arteries, it is not the cause of heart disease. Cholesterol builds in arteries to prevent damage from inflammation. Many experts now believe this is more likely than cholesterol being the enemy to eradicate.   

In a six year study of over 47,000 patients treated with a statin drug, those with total cholesterol levels between 200-219 mg/dl had a lower rate of heart disease than those with higher or lower levels.  The lowest mortality rates were seen in patients with total cholesterol levels between 200-259 mg/dl.  People with total cholesterol levels below 160 had the highest death rates.  

To be fair, cholesterol-lowering drugs do have some benefits. First of all, they have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effects.  Since inflammation is associated with heart disease, this can lower your risk.  And of course we all know that blood clots can cause strokes.  In experiments with mice statins have shown to reduce frequency of calcification and plague ruptures, both markers of advanced heart disease.  In animal studies, statins have also been shown to reduce oxidative stress (free radical damage) even as cholesterol levels remain unchanged.  Sounds good but there are safer ways to lower inflammation and that is through diet and supplements.

Now let's look at the dark side of statins--side effects.  Your doctor will probably tell you that statin drugs have little known side effects and even if you take the drug and have side effects, he'll tell you it's not the statin drug because few people had any serious side effects in clinical trials so what's wrong with you.  They were proven to be safe, well tolerated, and effective. Let's take a look at how the clinical trials were done. People are carefully screened to get those that are basically healthy with slightly elevated cholesterol levels.  People with serious problems such as liver or kidney problems, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, heart disease, cancer, or other chronic diseases are excluded from the trials.  Women of child-bearing age are also excluded.  In addition, the clinical trials don't usually go on long enough because Big Pharma wants the drug on the shelves as soon as possible for obvious financial reasons.  

Remember Baycol?  This cholesterol lowering drug was pulled from the market by Bayer AG after 52 deaths were linked to the drug.  Baycol caused severe muscle damage in some.  Over 100 deaths and over 1,600 injuries have since linked to Baycol. 

Here is a list of the common and not so common side effects of statins:

1)  Extreme fatigue 
2)  Nausea
3)  Gastrointestinal problems
4)  Muscle weakness and pain
5)  Muscle damage.  If you have muscle weakness and pain, it is likely you already have muscle damage which is not always completely reversed when the drug is stopped.  Some people have neuropathy for the rest of their life. 
6)  Coenzyme Q10 depletion.  Statin drugs deplete the body of Coenzyme Q10, a critical component of mitochondria that is responsible for producing all of a cell's energy requirement.  Is is also a potent antioxidant that decreases with age.  This may be one of the reasons for the side effect of fatigue.  Coenzyme Q10 is required for a healthy heart.  Congestive heart failure has risen a few years after statin drugs hit the market.  This very well may be the reason why.  If you are on statin drugs or are over 60, you should be taking this vital supplement on a daily basis.
7) Cognitive dysfunction, memory problems, and TGA (Total Global Amnesia).  TGA is a transient form of memory loss that can last from 15 minutes to half-a-day.  Imagine getting TGA when your driving a car or flying an airplane as pilot and doctor Duane Graveline could have been doing when he got TGA.  he also wrote a book called Lipitor: Thief of Memory. The brain needs cholesterol to function.  The brain is mostly fat and 25% cholesterol.  Blocking cholesterol levels in the blood also blocks it from the brain.  Giving someone with dementia a statin drug is like giving injecting a diabetic with HFCS.  
7)  Cancer. There is a link between cholesterol-lowering drugs and cancer.  In one study, the greatest risk was breast cancer.
8)  Birth defects.  This one is not as common since most women of child-bearing age do not take statins (3% of statins)  However, one study showed that 20 of 52 babies exposed to statins in the womb were born with birth defects.  This link makes sense as babies need cholesterol to develop normally so what idiot doctor would put a pregnant woman or one of child-bearing age on statins?
9) Hormone depletion.  Hormones need cholesterol to synthesis.   Testosterone is especially affected by statins.  Both men and women need this hormone for libido.  Hormone depletion also equals faster aging. 
10) Erectile dysfunction.  As if the above weren't enough to consider.


Eggs are not only good for your heart, they are good for your brain and eyes. Eggs contain lutein, and zeaxanthin, nutrients that protect vision.  They also contain choline, a precursor of acetylcholine which the brain needs for memory and learning. 

I will never take a cholesterol-lowering drug. You will have to weight the risks and benefits and come up with your own decision. In the meantime, here are ways to have a healthy heart without drugs:

 

References:
Colpo, Anthony, The Great Cholesterol Con, Australia 2006
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2005/05/28/cholesterol-heart.aspx 


Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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