Millions of folks in the United States take a statin medication to lower their cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Some believe that these statins are the new wonder drug, while others wonder whether if the benefits outweigh the risks. With research studies uncovering questionable gain and serious side effects, critical concerns are justified. A thorough understanding of the way that statins work helps explain why they may not be the key to healthier hearts and longer lives.
LOWER LEVELS OF CHOLESTEROL
The statins job is to block the activity of enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, an essential step in the synthesis of cholesterol. Inhibition of this enzyme prevents the body from producing cholesterol, which lowers the levels in the blood. However, cholesterol has several important functions in the body, and we cannot live without it. Did you realize it acts as an antioxidant, a repair molecule and an essential component of all cell membranes? Did you know that the body uses cholesterol to make sex hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and adrenal hormones, which help the body deal with stress and regulate blood volume? The body also uses cholesterol to make bile, which aids in our digestive process and assimilation of dietary fats, and vitamin D, which increases absorption of calcium, which builds stronger bones, strengthens our immune system and provides protection against hypertension, autoimmune and even some cancers.
Truth is that our cholesterol accounts for approximately half the dry weight of our brain, where it plays an important role in insulating our neurons and allowing cells to communicate. When our body does not make enough cholesterol, neurological issues can slide to the forefront. Some of the side effects of taking statin medications include: cognitive impairment, memory loss, mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, personality changes, depression, anxiety and irritability.
DEPLETION OF CONENZYME Q10
Statins also deplete and inhibit the synthesis of coenzyme Q10, which is an antioxidant and essential cofactor in the production of energy inside our cells. Because heart cells have such a large energy requirement, they contain the highest concentrations of CoQ10. When we are deficient, it can lead to a weakening of the heart and compromised cardiovascular system.
The deficiency of CoQ10 caused by statins can start soon after treatment. This is where I break out the studies folks; Columbia University found that after only 14 days of treatment with Lipitor, COQ10 levels were reduced by 49 percent. Once there is a depletion in CoQ10, heart issues can quickly follow, even in folks who have had no prior history of any cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Cardiology followed adults who were healthy aside from mildly elevated levels of cholesterol. After only 6 months of taking a low dose of Lipitor, 71 percent of the participants developed early heart muscle dysfunction.
Some side effects of statins are related to the loss of CoQ10 in muscles and a reduced capacity for energy production.
What does that present itself as physically:
*shortness of breath
*problems with mobility/balance
The Journal of American Medical Association found that all statins caused cancer in animals, in some cases at doses comparable to those prescribed in humans. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine linked statin meds to an increased risk of breast cancer. Some additional side effects associated with statin medications:
- abdominal cramps
- skin rash
- hair loss
- inflammation of the pancreas
- liver damage
What I have found through research is that the benefits of statins are questionable, and that major studies have failed to show protective effects. The American Journal of Cardiology found that statin medications taken to lower cholesterol actually increased the risk of death in some people. They also found that participants taking statin drugs who had the the lowest levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) had the highest rates of mortality. The reduction of cholesterol is widely believed to be beneficial in preventing heart disease, but only half of all people who suffer heart attacks and strokes have high cholesterol.
For four years, researches at Yale University measured total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL), in almost 1,000 participants and tracked the rates of death from heart disease, death from any cause, and hospitalizations for heart attack and unstable angina. They found no differences between the two groups. People with high total cholesterol had no more fatal heart attacks than individuals with low total cholesterol.
WHAT ARE SOME ALTERNATIVE INTERVENTIONS?
Maybe lowering cholesterol is not the best way to prevent heart disease. Maybe more effective lifestyle interventions that include regular exercise, weight control, stress management and a healthier diet low in refined carbohydrates like sugar and flour and adulterated oils, and high in antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables should be incorporated.
Supplemental nutrients can also be beneficial in bringing a balance for example: Fish Oil can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, thin the blood to prevent blood clots and decrease levels of triglycerides, slowing accumulation of atherosclerotic plaques that block coronary arteries. Fish oils have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, dangerous arrhythmias, stroke and death. The truth is that cholesterol is made by our liver, and it is used in seminal fluid and vaginal lubrication, and is an essential pat of nerve fiber structure, strength, and resilience. Reducing cholesterol may also mean lowering sexual activity and becoming nervously irritable and depressed.
- CoQ10 improves circulation
- fiber helps to lower cholesterol and most folks don’t get near enough dietary fiber in take daily.
- Garlic lowers cholesterol levels and improves blood pressure and is a natural blood thinner.
- L-Carnitine lowers cholesterol levels in peeps who have had heart attacks.
- Lecithin is a fat emulsifier and helps balance cholesterol.
- Vitamin B complex is important in controlling cholesterol levels.
- Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B3 (niacin) taken in conjunction with B complex are important with balancing cholesterol levels. (NOTE: if you have a liver issue, gout or high blood pressure you don’t want to take niacin.
- Vitamin C and Vitamin E improve circulation and helps keep cholesterol in check.
- Essential fatty acids thin the blood and balances neurotransmitters.
- proteolytic enzymes aid in digestion to help break down fats/proteins.
- Selenium deficiency has been linked to heart disease.
- Shiitake or Reishi extract helps to control and lower cholesterol levels.
- Protease or Peptidase split large polypeptides by breaking and adding a molecule of water to the broken ends and forming smaller polypeptides. They have been shown to e absorbed in substantial quantities into the blood where they bind to serum proteins and are utilized by tissues involved with immune function. Plant or food proteases have been proven to be effective in dissolving blood clots and restoring normal blood flow.
- Lipase hydrolyzes fats into monoglycerides and fatty acids. The role of the enzyme lipase is being studied extensively in treatment of chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, malabsorption abnormalities, myocardial infarction, and cholesterol and triglyceride studies.
- apple pectin also lowers cholesterol levels by binding fats and heavy metals.
- chromium picolinate lowers total cholesterol levels and improves HDL to LDL ratio.
WHAT ABOUT FOODS TO INCORPORATE?
Including almonds, apples, carrots, col water fish, dried beans, garlic grapefruit, oats, olive oil, salmon, strawberries, walnuts. How many know that strawberries in particular were shown to reduce damage from oxidation to the bad LDL cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. Make sure you take in plenty of fiber in the form of fruits vegetables and whole grains. Water soluble dietary fiber is very important in reducing serum cholesterol. It is found in barley, beans, brown rice, fruits, glucomannan, guar bum and oats. How many are willing to incorporate juicing into their daily routine; carrot juice helps to flush out fat from the bile in the liver and helps lower cholesterol. Almonds are rich in the amion acid arginine, and were found in one study to cut cholesterol levels by sixteen points over a four-week period.
Include daily exercise, which helps manage stress. Drinking large amounts of coffee can elevate blood cholesterol levels, more than doubling the risk of heart disease. According to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, observation of 15,000 coffee drinkers revealed that as the intake of coffee rises, the amount of cholesterol in the blood goes up.
But before starting any new supplements or discontinuing any statin medication, schedule an appointment with your doctor, ask about evaluating your risk of cardiovascular disease using indicators more reliable than cholesterol tests along like: where are your levels of homocysteine levels (amino acid in the blood), LDL particle size, and C-reactive protein, which measures inflammation.
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