The Statin-Heart Disease connection came about when cholesterol was identified as an indicator of heart disease. This study, referred to as the Framingham study was conducted during the 80’s, which led to the belief that lowered cholesterol levels was a good indicator of heart health. The common ways this was addressed was by taking Statin medications, and to adopt a so called, “heart healthy low fat” diet. Statins became a standard prescription drug by western Medicine practitioners, believed to be an effective treatment to reduce or prevent heart disease. Despite the large numbers of Americans taking Statin medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, heart disease was still ranked as number as the number one illness related cause of death. Statins have been used in the US for over 30 years, yet Heart Disease has been edging out cancer, which is a close second place.
For decades, organized healthcare has touted the effectiveness of Statin medications amidst the ever-growing prevalence of heart disease. Today, Statins are the most widely prescribed medications throughout America, with some estimated 35 million Americans taking Statin Medications today, which could double based upton the new guidelines released in November 2013 by the American College of Cardiology. (http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/12/science/la-sci-sn-statins-cholesterol-new-guidelines-20131112)
What you should know about Statin Drugs:
Cholesterol over predicts heart attack risk
The New York Times just reported (11-18-2013) that using Cholesterol “over predicts” heart attack risk and is “flawed. Dr Peter Libby MD, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s hospital says they have a “real disaster in terms of credibility”, and “something is terribly wrong.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/18/health/risk-calculator-for-cholesterol-appears-flawed.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&nl=todaysheadlines)
2.Statin drugs are good for lowering cholesterol, but not at reducing heart disease. Many studies show that 50% of all heart attacks and strokes occur in people who have normal to below average cholesterol. This indicates that high Cholesterol alone is not the cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Statin Side Effects
A side effect from taking Statins is that the liver becomes “more sick,” which contributes to a lowered level of health for you. Statins are used to shut down the enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol, which limits the amount of cholesterol produced. Your liver produces 80-90% of your cholesterol, versus from dietary intake. It does not heal the cause of why your body is producing more cholesterol than it should.
Statin drugs cause neuropathy
Neuropathy refers to “nerve pain” and together with myopathy, can leave a person unable to walk without difficulty due to both weak muscles and “nerve pain.” The Myelin sheath is a cholesterol based and coated fatty sheath. Statin drugs inhibit our ability to make this sheath, which leaves our neurons in a damaged, weakened, and irritated state that can become painful.
Statin drugs cause myopathy
This is one of the most common side effects of Statins. Myopathy is a term that means muscle pain. Your liver processes most of your body’s proteins which are needed to repair muscle. Statins disrupt this protein synthesis, leaving your body unable to adequately repair muscle tissue. Because your heart is also a muscle, the Statin user may be at an even greater risk for heart troubles!
6. Statin drugs can cause elevated blood sugar levels.
Erratic blood sugar contributes to a host of additional problems, including diabetes. The FDA now requires this risk to be labeled on all Statin medications.
7. Statin drugs can cause memory loss.
The FDA has mandated this warning be added to the labels as well. Memory loss is a symptom of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.
8. FACT: Cholesterol is needed by your body!
Cholesterol is used to make many of your hormones, to include your sex hormones. Taking Statins can throw your hormonal system into an unnatural state of disarray.
We require cholesterol in order to metabolize cholesterol!
Cholesterol makes up “bile salts” which are a component of bile. Bile, which is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, is needed to emulsify, digest and remove cholesterol and other fatty acids. Statin drugs make it harder to make bile, and cholesterol, which in turn makes it harder for your body to metabolize cholesterol.
Oxidized cholesterol is the culprit of plaque
What makes this interesting is that the non-oxidized type of cholesterol is the version tested in a standard lipid panel. Oxidized cholesterol has been transformed into a solid, which can now clog blood vessels. The non-oxidized form cannot. Oxidized cholesterol can be detected, and even lowered with proper care, but your doctor has to use the right test, and have a good protocol in place to create a favorable outcome. We use the Ox-LDL lab test developed by cardiologists at Cleveland Heart Lab.
Elevated cholesterol levels indicate a metabolic problem.
The most important aspect of testing for elevated cholesterol is that it indicates a liver metabolism problem (not necessarily an impending heart disease problem.) Usually when our liver starts to raise cholesterol levels in the body, it due to nutritional deficiencies, including: Vitamin C, many of the B vitamins, plant sterols, chromium, selenium, glutathione, copper, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, and enzymes.
Because our liver produces most of your body’s cholesterol in our body, when these levels elevate, this indicates that your liver is losing its ability to metabolize cholesterol. Tumeric and krill oil are two supplements among many that can be used to help your liver metabolize cholesterol, thereby lowering its levels.
Alternative treatments for heart disease
The real cause of heart disease is inflammation!
Inflammation is what scars the inner lining of our blood vessels, which in turn allows oxidized solids, such as plaque, to deposit into these freshly cut scars. The byproducts of inflammation transform cholesterol into its oxidized, solid form. It’s the oxidized form of cholesterol that we need to be concerned about, but this is not what’s tested in your standard lipid panel. The standard lipid panel tests for the pre-oxidized form of cholesterol.
Identifying oxidized solid cholesterol in your body
There is a test to detect oxidized solid cholesterol in the body. This test was developed by leading cardiologists at Cleveland Heart Lab. This test looks at a very specific enzyme, called Myeloperoxidase, that is capable of detecting “vulnerable plaque.”
Vulnerable plaque is plaque embedded in your blood vessel walls that is capable of clogging your circulation. It can be large enough to break away, float through your bloodstream and block a smaller blood vessel further downstream. This is a more accurate method to detect heart disease, and is a test that is a part of a larger Inflammation Panel that we recommend to many of our Patients.
Besides providing the capability of predicting these impending heart events, our protocol is designed to help your body reduce the inflammation that lowers the level of health, well-being, energy, and quality of life that we all deserve to have. Our approach is to lower the inflammation that is caused by high cholesterol, getting at the root of the problem. This helps us work with our Patients so that we can reduce these levels in a way that promotes health and well-being. Contact us today for more information on scheduling a consultation or taking the Cleveland Heart Lab test.