Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Good news and bad news about statins….

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-15-2015

Recently, I saw this article on Medscape:  “Bad Press' May Make Patients Stop Statins, Raise MI Risk by Marlene Busko, December 09, 2015.

The article says this is because the negative press on statins is so much more frequent than positive press.  There are millions more negative items than positive ones.

It then says that their data show that people with very high cholesterol who quit statins have more heart attacks than those who keep taking statins.

This clearly is designed to get the doctors who read it who believe in statins to keep prescribing them.

I’ve two reactions to this:

1.  The bad press on statins is TRUE!  If anything, it’s quite understated. 

So, that part of the headline and story is not only very good news, it’s a growing trend not likely to stop any time soon!

2.  But the other two parts of this ARE very bad news.

For the people with very high cholesterol who quit statins to have more heart attacks, since statins are NOT very protective, that means that those people did NOT do the several more protective things instead.

And, for that to happen, their doctors apparently did not know anything else to recommend or how to get their patients to do those things if they did know.

1.  So this post quickly summarizes why few people should ever take statins.

2.  But then it says what people can do instead that is MORE protective.  It is dreadful that people at risk don’t know it or how to measure it or what to do.

You CAN, it turns out, do a very great deal to protect yourself from heart attacks and the data shows it works.

1.  Summary of why few people should ever take statins:

a) About 60% of the people have a heredity such that 100 people have to take statins for many years to prevent one heart attack.  And, because that’s a nonfatal heart attack, the effect on deaths from heart disease is near zero.

The lowest percentage of several studies of statins triggering type 2 diabetes is nine out of 100; and some put it much higher than that.

So, unless statins were dramatically more effective than that, it costs people more illness and wasted time and the increased cost of medical care for everyone to prescribe them EVER to this group.

The genetic test to see if people are in this group is only $150 according to Cardiologist Arthur Agatson, MD.

Yet, there is virtually no press to doctors to do so; and most doctors who prescribe statins do so without doing this test!

Statins do somewhat better for the more people with the heredity that respond better to statins, according to the math for whole group to get 3 people out of 100 to avoid heart attacks, the 40% minority, get 6 fewer heart attacks for every 100 who take them.

That’s still lower than the minimum of 9 of 100 who will get diabetes who would not have without taking the statins.  But it is somewhat better but still not very good either.

This simply is bad medicine and public health policy in my view without further analysis.

If statins were the only thing we knew to prevent heart attacks and statins had no other seriously bad side effects, it already looks marginal to use them.

But statins many OTHER seriously bad side effects suggest they should have a black box warning and hardly ever be used.

AND, we know dozens of quite effective methods to use instead!

b)  Taking statins dramatically speeds aging, depletes energy enough to harm the patients’ quality of life and work productivity.  It also weakens their muscles – INCLUDING their hearts.

In fact, though it is worse with some statins than others and in high doses than low, taking statins makes the kind of vigorous fast and short cardio and effective strength training DANGEROUS to do that would otherwise PROTECT the heart, make it stronger, and reduce the chances of heart attacks.

This damage can kill and even be irreversible even in people it does not kill.

(A study was done that found that all the key measures of heart attack risk improved every year people did such exercises most days of every week without stopping.

Stanford found that people who exercised in this way had far fewer strokes and heart attacks than sedentary people matched to them otherwise on demographic characteristics AND they lived far longer.  Plus those added years tended to be healthy ones.)

 Because taking statins make that kind of exercise dangerous to do, I see them as an extremely poor drug that should hardly ever be used, let alone, have millions of people take them!

There is some evidence these harmful effects are because statins deplete the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 the body uses. 

Because this natural compound keeps the energy producing mitochondria healthy that provide the energy for each of your cells, for energy, good health, and slowed aging, you want to maintain youthful levels if the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 the body uses if you can.

(Regular vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to do this.)

But statin drugs deplete this compound instead. 

In a study at Columbia University, researchers found that taking a statin for just 14 days can cut your CoQ10 levels in HALF.

So between their very low effectiveness and known harm, statin drugs should hardly ever be used in my view.

So, it’s quite good news that people who learn these things stop taking statins or are not willing to  statins in the first place!

2.  BUT, the data in this article also suggest that people who ARE at higher risk for heart attacks aren’t protecting themselves at all, once they stop statins.

THAT is truly a horrible state of affairs when there are so many effective ways to prevent heart attacks that they can use instead.

To be fair, the doctors who now prescribe statins see the very poor readings on key heart health indicators and know these people are at dreadfully high risks of strokes and heart attacks.

But they either don’t know what else to do or they know but have too little know-how to get their patients to do them.

People who don’t exercise and drink soft drinks and eat packaged snacks and packaged desserts and fast food AND smoke are headed for heart disease, strokes, and cancer.

You don’t need to see their blood tests to know that.

But when you do see their blood tests, OMG it’s bad!

Heart disease has many causes; but the big three are high blood sugar, high small particle LDL that has been oxidized, and very high chronic and ongoing inflammation.

Someone like this can easily have a fasting blood sugar of over 120 and an HBA1C reading of their blood sugar average over a 60 day period of 7.0 or more.  (Technically they have type 2 diabetes at those levels.)  The spikes on this excess sugar tear up the insides of their arteries triggering heart disease; and they often ruin capillaries and kill or disable the part of you where this happens.)

Someone like this often has an LDL cholesterol of over 160.  And because their HDL is something like 35 and their triglycerides are about 350, we know that with this 10 to one negative ratio that a good bit if not most of that 160 or more LDL is the kind of small particle LDL that quite literally causes heart disease!  And they have enough they are getting rapidly worse every day!

These factors and others also make their base level of inflammation as measured by the C Reactive Protein test well over 1.0 and too often over 3.0.  This multiplies the damage done by the other factors.

The very good news is that we know what will cut the death rate from heart attacks and strokes.

And, we know ways OTHER THAN STATINS to reverse all these other problems!

Every one of those people who have such horrible readings who want to avoid heart attacks, strokes, and a diminished and shorter old age if they survive, needs to learn those methods.

And, they need to be taught them by their doctors or trainers skilled in it who are prescribed by their doctors.

Mercifully, in this area doctors ARE getting better.

a)  It’s been found that eating 6 or more servings of organic vegetables of several kinds other than potatoes each day cuts the death rate from both heart attacks and strokes by something like 24 % and 18% respectively.

AND, adding ONE piece a day of an organic fresh fruit cuts the death rate both kinds of strokes about another 40%.

This is a bit challenging to do; but the closer you come to doing so, the healthier and more protected you are from heart attacks and strokes.

AND, you will be less fat and have no trouble keeping off the fat you lose by beginning to do this.

b)  Stop eating and drinking heart attack starters!

“People who don’t exercise and drink soft drinks and eat packaged snacks and packaged desserts and fast food AND smoke are headed for heart disease, strokes, and cancer.”

Soft drinks – both regular and diet-- packaged snacks and packaged desserts and fast food are made out of heart attack starters!

Some of these like hydrogenated oils and hybrid wheat there is no safe level of consumption.  And, the other ingredients, by consuming them daily 7 days a week go from being slightly harmful per day to comparably harmful to keep consuming at all!

Also just like eating more vegetables, every single bit of this stuff you stop consuming makes you less fat permanently.  Even better, for most of it you get LESS hungry!

c)  Stay away from tobacco smoke.  Don’t allow yourself to be exposed to second hand smoke and if you smoke be certain to stop.  (Because we are in the beginning stages of developing a 90% or more effective set of ways to stop smoking, this will become easier to do.)  But do this one as well as you are able. 

Every single exposure to tobacco smoke adds to the plaque in your arteries.  (It also doubles your chances of Alzheimer’s disease and causes about half of all cancers.)  But it always causes heart disease with every exposure. 

In addition, due to the big drop in heart attacks when smoking in public places caused it, we also know that once you are at risk, you can have a heart attack you might have escaped if it weren’t triggered by tobacco smoke.

d)  Read the book Anti-Cancer to know how to eat to keep your inflammation low.  The information is so clearly presented, it’s actually easy to follow.  (Chronic inflammation boosts your chances of getting and keeping cancer besides doing the same to your heart and brain!)

e) Besides the turmeric or the curcumin taken from it that this doctor recommends, also eat or take ginger regularly.

These plants are botanical cousins.  And in fact if you do both, you’ll get the results doctors wish statins delivered safely but don’t.

Your chronic inflammation will fall; your LDL cholesterol will fall; and your other heart health measures will improve.  And they have other health benefits instead of side effects!

Consider taking 100 mg to 300 mg twice a day of real niacin; and 300 mg twice a day of the natural slow release form insositol hexaniacinate each day.  You want your chance of death from any cause to drop.  And you want your HDL to go up and your LDL and triglycerides to go down.  Taking niacin in this way has been shown to do every one of these things.

Eat wild caught fish low in mercury but high in omega 3 oils two or three times a week. 
And take omega 3 and a DHA supplement daily. 

Particularly if you also eat to avoid giving yourself inflammation, this will also drop your level of chronic inflammation!

But even more exciting it will increase your protective HDL and lower your triglycerides at the same time.  THAT is directly heart protective because it means your small particle LDL will go down.

f)  Ramp up very slowly to avoid overdoing it at first or over-stressing yourself before you have these other things in place.

But guess what, you can directly reduce the small particle LDL that causes heart disease.

And, you don’t need drugs or anything else to do it.

Exercise was tested at Stanford to do this! 

People who do vigorous exercise most days of very week – both high intensity short cardio and effective strength training reduce their small particle LDL by doing so.  Their HDL goes up, their triglycerides go down and their LDL goes down which reflects this.

And, a study was done that found that all the key measures of heart attack risk improved every year people did such exercises most days of every week without stopping.

Stanford found that people who exercised in this way had far fewer strokes and heart attacks than sedentary people matched to them otherwise on demographic characteristics AND they lived far longer.  Plus those added years tended to be healthy ones.


This kind of healthy lifestyle prevents heart attacks and strokes.  It’s VERY effective.

It has none of the nasty side effects of statins.

So if you avoid or stop taking statins you are wise.

BUT, if you are at risk, please do the things that DO protect you instead!  

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