In February 2010, the FDA approved the use of statin drugs for patients who have normal cholesterol levels but have other risks for heart disease, especially inflammation. Now a July 2010 article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine questions the wisdom of prescribing statin drugs for those people.
Here's what you need to know.
My doctor wants me to take a statin drug even though my cholesterol level is normal. Why?
Your doctor is most likely just repeating the conventional wisdom. A recent study indicated that statin drugs can reduce inflammation-the real cause behind most heart disease. Inflammation is measured by checking your level of CRP, or C-reactive protein. Cholesterol reduction could almost be considered a side effect of statins.
I have a different point of view: that statin drug safety concerns mean that there are better solutions for most people. Anyone can begin by making overall changes that will lead you toward living a long and healthy life, and avoid the side effects of statins.
WATCH: Is Taking a Statin Drug the Right Choice for You?
Why Should I be Concerned About Statin Drug Safety?
Any drug has side effects; properly prescribed drugs are the fourth-leading cause of death in this country.
Neurological side effects of statins are the most threatening aspect of statin drug safety, because they're so devastating. Patients taking statin drugs have developed muscular weakness, dementia and memory loss as severe as total global amnesia (where the person can't even remember who they are). Women who take statin drugs also have an increased risk of breast cancer.
These side effects of statins all appear to have a common factor: damage to the mitochondria, tiny bodies within each cell that are responsible for generating energy.
What should I do if I'm already taking a statin drug?
Every person who's taking a statin drug should also be taking 100 mg of high-quality CoQ10 twice a day. If you've developed signs of muscular weakness, you should add 1-2 grams of L-carnitine twice a day, and if you need even more support, take 5 grams of the sugar called D-ribose twice daily.
In addition, you should look to other, safer ways to manage your cholesterol.
What else can I do to reduce inflammation?
You don't need statins. There are safer ways to reduce inflammation and your CRP levels. Lifestyle changes include getting more exercise and losing weight. The compounds that create inflammation live in fat cells, so the more fat you get rid of the lower your inflammation level.
You can also take these nutritional supplements:
- CoQ10 plus vitamin E,
- CoQ10 plus omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and
- The enzymes nattokinase or lumbrokinase.
Is there anything else I should know about statin drug safety?
Using statin drugs to reduce cholesterol doesn't make sense, considering the extreme side effects of statins that can occur.
But the drugs do make sense in certain situations. I don't hesitate to prescribe statin drugs for men who are 45–75 years old and who have diagnosed cardiovascular disease and/or significant risk factors for heart disease, including:
- Low HDL,
- Coronary calcification,
- A previous heart attack or
- High levels of inflammation.
I only prescribe statin drugs for women who have far-advanced coronary disease and are getting worse in spite of vigorous conventional and alternative therapies.
There's a place for statins, but the doctor needs to be selective and treat the patient, not the test results. For example, younger women who have high cholesterol but no other risk factors have no business being on a statin drug.