There are a lot of prescription medications on the market today that lower cholesterol; chances are, your doctor has directed you to take at least one of them. Before you pop the next pill, getting a proper understanding of cholesterol and, even more importantly, getting the real story of what these high-cholesterol medications do inside your body is essential.
Since you were a kid, you’ve probably been told that high cholesterol, especially high LDL cholesterol, will kill you. It’s a recipe for disaster, and you’d better cut out the saturated fats. Stop all red meats, eat more oatmeal and Cheerios for breakfast, and take a prescription medication to get those numbers as low as possible. Right?
Unfortunately, you and millions of others worldwide have been living a lie pushed on you by the pharmaceutical and food industries. Don’t blame your doctors. They are simply a pawn in the money-making scheme. The real truth is:
- Our bodies produce cholesterol.
- Every cell in our bodies is composed of cholesterol.
- Dietary cholesterol has virtually no impact on cholesterol in the blood.
- If we didn’t have cholesterol, we could not live.
Those are all factual statements. We need cholesterol to exist. It doesn’t make sense that our bodies would make something that is bad, right? The reality is that how we eat and live affects how cholesterol acts in our bodies. Lifestyle and diet are what people need to change. They don’t need a drug to restrict the body from making cholesterol.
Let’s look at the most popular cholesterol-lowering drugs and their effects on the body.
The main action of statin drugs is to inhibit an enzyme called HMG CoA reductase from producing cholesterol in the liver. The problem is HMG CoA is the same enzyme responsible for making CoQ10, dolichol, heme A, and many more vital biochemical compounds that help keep the body working like a well-oiled machine.
Some popular brands of statin medications include:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- Simvastatin (Zocor)
Although there are other statins, these leading brands promise to lower “bad LDL cholesterol” and triglycerides in the blood. The only difference is their level of intensity, with atorvastatin being the go-to statin doctors use for patients who they consider at the highest risk for heart attack or stroke.
Do statins work to lower cholesterol? Yes. But the more important question people should be asking is, “Will this statin drug lower my risk of heart attack, stroke, or dying?”
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a resounding–No! And there are studies to prove it.
A 2009 study of over 70,000 people who had never had a heart attack, stroke, or stent but did have risk factors for coronary artery disease to determine if a statin drug would be effective as a primary prevention. The study findings were:
- The annual chance of dying was 0.1 percent lower in statin drug users versus placebo.
- The annual chance of a heart attack was o.2 percent lower in statin users versus placebo.
- The annual chance of a stroke was 0.1% lower in statin drug users versus placebo.
These are TINY percentages and show statins do virtually NOTHING to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.
There was also an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine that found an 18 percent INCREASE in the death rate of statin drug users versus placebo, with a 34 percent higher death rate in people over 75.
Remember, the goal isn’t to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death by a percentage point or two. The goal is to reduce the risk to ZERO. We can help you do that at Natural Heart Doctor without statins or any other medication.
Statin side effects
Besides being ineffective, statin medications cause numerous side effects. Some are only bothersome, while others can be life-changing and even deadly.
If you’re taking a statin, have a look and see if you’re suffering from any of these problems:
- Low testosterone
- New onset diabetes
- Moderate to severe muscle pain
- Liver inflammation
- Heart failure
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Increased forgetfulness
- Esophagitis and GERD
- Colorectal, bladder, and lung cancer
There are also reports of mental health issues associated with statin drug use. One article claims behavioral and psychiatric changes related to statin use include violent nightmares, aggression, mood/personality changes, and even violent or homicidal ideation, sometimes culminating in suicide.
It’s safe to say that the risks of taking a statin far outweigh the benefit of the small percentage points of actual risk reduction of a heart attack or death.
Statins work by blocking the production of the HMG CoA reductase enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol. PCSK9-inhibitors work through an entirely different mechanism to lower cholesterol.
The protein PCSK9 prevents the liver from clearing LDL from the bloodstream by binding to LDL receptors. The PCSK9-inhibitors are lab-made monoclonal antibodies that stop the proteins from attaching to LDL receptors. More cholesterol can be removed from the blood when more receptors are available.
There are currently only two PCSK9-inhibitors on the market:
- Evolocumab (Repatha)
- Alirocumab (Praluent)
They are given by injection once every two to four weeks.
PCSK9-inhibitor side effects
The PCSK9-inhibitors have far fewer side effects than statins. However, it’s important to remember that these drugs are new to the market, particularly compared to statins, and have not had as many documented studies about their overall and adverse effects.
Currently, the documented side effects include:
- Muscle toxicity
- Injection site reactions
- Flu-like illness
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
The cholesterol absorption inhibitors work in the small intestine to stop the body from absorbing cholesterol from the digestive tract. It can also make the liver more effective in removing cholesterol from the blood. They’re sometimes prescribed alongside statins to lower LDL and triglycerides.
Currently, the only available brand of cholesterol absorption inhibitor is sold under the name of ezetimibe (Zetia).
Ezetimibe side effects
Minor side effects include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Joint pain
And more serious side effects include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, and legs
- Upset stomach
- Extreme tiredness
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle pain
- Fever or chills
- Pale or fatty stools
- Chest pain
As you can see, the side effects are extensive—all to lower cholesterol without truly knowing or understanding the importance of cholesterol for overall health.
Probably the most significant adverse side effect of all these cholesterol-lowering medications is the false sense of security they give people who continue taking them.
Doctors tell them to swallow a pill or get an injection, which will fix all their problems regardless of what they eat and drink or how they live.
The first thing you need to do if you’re worried about your cholesterol is get true and thorough information about your levels, the treatment you need, and the changes you may have to make.
At Natural Heart Doctor, we won’t take a look at your blood work and write you a prescription without asking you questions about your diet and your lifestyle. We want to know you and understand everything you’ll need to cut your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death to as close to zero as possible, and we will never prescribe you a cholesterol-lowering medication.
Our Advanced Cardiac Panel will provide a baseline of your lipid levels. It will not only tell us your total cholesterol and the breakdown of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, but it will also provide us with an advanced analysis of all your lipoproteins and your level of inflammation.
We also suggest taking advantage of a complimentary 20-minute health consultation with an experienced NHD health coach to review your current medications thoroughly. From there, we’ll start you on a path to that 0% risk level and your 100 Year Heart.