November 25, 2013

New Statin Drug Guidelines

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

In the last few weeks the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have released new guidelines for who should be taking statin drugs. Their stated goal of this release is to address the surging rates of heart attacks and strokes. The real reason is that these two organizations are just pawns for the big pharmaceutical companies. They themselves admit that by using these new guidelines the number of people taking statin drugs will double. Currently there are about 35 million users and they expect another 35 million users will be added.

The way they do this is by broadening the definition of who is “at-risk.” The new rules include healthy people that do not currently have any markers for heart disease. They explain the thought is that these people could develop heart problems later in life, so including them in new recommendations now may help lower that risk.

Over the years physicians have been told to focus on those with high LDL(bad) cholesterol. According to Melissa Healy of the LA Times, “Physicians….will now be urged to refocus their efforts on using statin therapy on a wider range of at-risk patients, many of them still healthy, to drive down their odds of a heart attack or stroke.” Preventive drugs?  Give me a break.

Nowhere in the release of this information have they even mentioned the side effects of these nasty drugs, even though the known side effects include blood sugar issues, stroke, muscle destruction and even increased heart disease.

The evidence is in. Your lifestyle is more important than taking statins to prevent primary heart attack. Drug therapies offer little in the way of prevention, and the risks are enormous. The most recent review of current published literature shows a “categorical lack of clinical evidence to support the use of statin therapy as primary prevention.” They also found that statins actually increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in women, the young and people with diabetes.

They found that for every 10,000 people taking a statin, there were 307 extra patients with cataracts, 23 additional patients with acute kidney failure, and 74 extra patients with liver injury and dysfunction. They showed statins increased muscle fatigability by 30% with more than an 11% incidence of rhabdomyolysis (a life threatening muscle condition) at higher doses. There is increased coronary artery and aortic artery calcification, increased diabetes, cancer and erectile dysfunction, which is ten times more common in young men taking the lower doses statins.

Here are some formulas to help you determine your risk of heart disease. Instead of an outdated evaluation by looking at total cholesterol numbers, as most doctors do, try using these formulas to assess risk. Take your HDL number and divide it by your total cholesterol. Ideally that number should be about 25%. If it is below 10% you have significant elevated risk.

Another way to assess risk is by taking your triglyceride number and dividing it by your HDL number. This should be below 2.

Other risks include a fasting glucose level of 100-125 mg/dl. Those people are 300 times more likely to have a coronary heart event than those whose fasting blood glucose was below 79 mg/dl.

A high fasting insulin level also is a factor in increased heart events. The extra insulin released when you eat high carb food makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight and excess fat, particularly around your belly, which is a major contributor to heart disease.

High blood iron levels damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.

Instead of taking statin drugs as a preventive medicine for heart disease, take control of your health the right way. Reduce and try to eliminate grains and sugars from your diet. Make sure you are taking a high quality krill oil. Optimize your vitamin D levels, exercise daily, avoid excessive alcohol and smoking, and be sure to get plenty of good sleep. Add healthy foods like olive oil, coconut oil, raw grass fed dairy and raw eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass fed meats to your diet. These offer the best prevention of heart disease, not some risk laden statin drug.