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Cardiologist Reviews High Cholesterol Medications

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.

Understanding cholesterol

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:

  1. Our bodies produce cholesterol.
  2. Every cell in our bodies is composed of cholesterol.
  3. Dietary cholesterol has virtually no impact on cholesterol in the blood.
  4. 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.

Statins

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
  • Neuropathy
  • Heart failure
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Dementia
  • Esophagitis and GERD
  • Osteoporosis
  • 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.

PCSK9-inhibitors

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:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Joint pain

And more serious side effects include:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, and legs
  • Hoarseness
  • 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.

Next steps

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.

In order to live well, one must eat well.

Get the Natural Heart Doctor approved Diet and discover how to eat for your 100 Year Heart.

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Discover how we can help you achieve your 100 Year Heart.

About Dr. Keith Smigiel NP, DC

Dr. Keith Smigiel

Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

He has been named one of America’s Top Functional Medicine Doctors and is a five-time winner of the Natural Choice Awards as a holistic M.D. Dr. Wolfson’s work has been covered by more than 100 media outlets, including NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. His book “The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health” was an Amazon #1 best-seller.

Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.