The Diet-Heart Myth: Statins Don’t Save Lives in People Without Heart Disease

statins

To read more about heart disease and cholesterol, check out the special report page.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions in medicine. In the first article in this series, I explained the evidence suggesting that eating cholesterol and saturated fat does not increase the risk of heart disease. In the second article, I explained it’s not the amount of cholesterol in your blood that drives heart disease risk, but the number of LDL particles. In the third article, I discussed the five primary causes of elevated LDL particle number.

In this article, I will debunk the myth that statin drugs save lives in healthy people without heart disease, and discuss some of the little known side effects and risks associated with these drugs.

Myth #3: Statins save lives in healthy people without heart disease

Statins have been hailed by many in the conventional medical establishment as wonder drugs, with some physicians going as far as suggesting they should be added to the water supply. (The doctor that made that particular suggestion is named John Reckless – I kid you not.) But are statins really the wonder drugs they’ve been made out to be?

Are statins really the wonder drugs they’ve been made out to be?Tweet This

Before we dive into the statistics on statins, I need to briefly explain the difference between relative and absolute risk reduction. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies often use relative risk statistics to report the results of drug studies. For example, they might say “in this trial, statins reduced the risk of a heart attack by 30%”. But what they may not tell you is that the actual risk of having a heart attack went from 0.5% to 0.35%. In other words, before you took the drug you had a 1 in 200 chance of having a heart attack; after taking the drug you have a 1 in 285 chance of having a heart attack. That’s not nearly as impressive as using the 30% relative risk number, but it provides a more accurate picture of what the actual, or “absolute” risk reduction is.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the efficacy of statins in two broad groups of people: those with pre-existing heart disease, and those without pre-existing heart disease. In the medical literature, these groups are referred to as “secondary prevention” and “primary prevention”, respectively.

Secondary prevention (those with pre-existing heart disease)

There’s little doubt that statins are effective in reducing heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in people who already have heart disease. Several large controlled trials including 4S, CARE, LIPID, HPS, TNT, MIRACL, PROV-IT and A to Z have shown relative risk reductions between 7% on the low end in MIRACL and 32% on the high end in 4S, with an average risk reduction of about 20%.

However, absolute risk reductions are much more modest. They range from 0.8% in MIRACL on the low end to 9% in 4S on the high end, with an average of 3%.

An analysis by Dr. David Newman in 2010 which drew on large meta-analyses of statins found that among those with pre-existing heart disease that took statins for 5 years (1):

  • 96% saw no benefit at all
  • 1.2% (1 in 83) had their lifespan extended (were saved from a fatal heart attack)
  • 2.6% (1 in 39) were helped by preventing a repeat heart attack
  • 0.8% (1 in 125) were helped by preventing a stroke
  • 0.6% (1 in 167) were harmed by developing diabetes
  • 10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damage

A heart attack or stroke can have a significant negative impact on quality of life, so any intervention that can decrease the risk of such an event should be given serious consideration. But even in the population for which statins are most effective—those with pre-existing heart disease—83 people have to be treated to extend one life, and 39 people have to be treated to prevent a repeat heart attack.

Moreover, these results do not apply to all populations across the board. Most studies have shown that while statins do reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and deaths from CVD in women, they do not reduce the risk of death from all causes (“total mortality”). (2)

Nor do these results apply to men or women over the age of 80. Statins do reduce the risk of heart attack and other CVD events in men over the age of 80, and especially at this age, these events can have a significant negative impact on quality of life. However, the bulk of the evidence suggests that statins don’t extend life in people over 80 years of age, regardless of whether they have heart disease, and the highest death rates in people over 80 are associated with the lowest cholesterol levels. (3), (4)

Primary prevention (those without pre-existing heart disease)

Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people without pre-existing heart disease. However, this effect is more modest than most people assume. Dr. Newman also analyzed the effect of statins given to people with no known heart disease for 5 years (5):

  • 98% saw no benefit at all
  • 1.6% (1 in 60) were helped by preventing a heart attack
  • 0.4% (1 in 268) were helped by preventing a stroke
  • 1.5% (1 in 67) were harmed by developing diabetes
  • 10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damage

These statistics present a more sobering view on the efficacy of statins in people without pre-existing heart disease. They suggest that you’d need to treat 60 people for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, or 268 people for 5 years to prevent a single stroke. These somewhat unimpressive benefits must also be weighed against the downsides of therapy, such as side effects and cost. During that hypothetical 5 year period, 1 in 67 patients would have developed diabetes and 1 in 10 patients would have developed muscle damage (which can be permanent in some cases, as we’ll see later in this section).

In addition, while statins do moderately reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack in people without heart disease, they’ve never been shown to extend lifespan in this population. This is true even when the risk of heart disease is high. In a large meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials by Kausik Ray, MD and colleagues published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, statins were not associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death from all causes. (6)

This trial included 65,000 people without pre-existing heart disease but with intermediate to high risk of heart disease. It was important because it was the first review that only included participants without known heart disease. Previous studies suggesting that statins are effective in reducing death in people without pre-existing heart disease included some people that did have heart disease, which would have skewed the results.

The lack of significant effect on mortality is even more interesting in light of the fact that LDL cholesterol levels did decrease significantly in the statin group; the average LDL level in those taking placebo was 134 mg/dL and the average in the statin-treated patients was 94 mg/dL—roughly 30% lower. Yet in spite of this marked reduction in LDL cholesterol in the statin group, there was no difference in lifespan between the two groups. This is yet another line of evidence suggesting that the amount of cholesterol in LDL particles is not the driving factor in heart disease.

A meta-analysis of statin trials in people without heart disease by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration came to a similar conclusion. (7) They also observed that all but one of the clinical trials providing evidence on this issue were sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. This is significant because research clearly indicates that industry-sponsored trials are more likely than non-industry-sponsored trials to report favorable results for drugs because of biased reporting, biased interpretation, or both. (8)

Adverse effects of statins

If statins were harmless and free, then it wouldn’t matter how many people need to be treated to prevent a heart attack or extend someone’s lifespan. But statins are not free, nor are they harmless. Statin use has been associated with a wide range of side effects, including myopathy (muscle pain), liver damage, cataracts, kidney failure, cognitive impairment, impotence and diabetes.

Unfortunately, studies show that physicians are more likely to deny than affirm the possibility of statin side effects, even for symptoms with strong evidence in the scientific literature. (9) Assuming that physicians would likely not report the adverse reaction in these circumstances, it’s probable that the incidence of statin side effects is much higher than the reported rates.

One of the most troubling side effects of statins that has only recently become apparent is their potential to increase the risk of diabetes, especially in women. A study by Dr. Naveed Sattar and colleagues published in The Lancet in 2010 examined 13 randomized clinical trials involving over 90,000 patients taking statins. They found that statin use was associated with a 9% increased risk in developing diabetes. Note that this is a relative risk, so the absolute risk of developing diabetes while taking a statin is very low. That said, observational data from the Women’s Health Initiative found a 48% increased risk of diabetes in healthy women taking statins after adjusting for other risk factors. (10)

To summarize:

  • The only population that statins extend life in are men under 80 years of age with pre-existing heart disease.
  • In men under 80 without pre-existing heart disease, men over 80 with or without heart disease, and women of any age with or without heart disease, statins have not been shown to extend lifespan.
  • Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in all populations. A heart attack or stroke can have a significant, negative impact on quality of life—particularly in the elderly—so this benefit should not be discounted.
  • However, the reductions in cardiovascular events are often more modest than most assume; 60 people with high cholesterol but no heart disease would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, and 268 people would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent a single stroke.
  • Statins have been shown to cause a number of side effects, such as muscle pain and cognitive problems, and they are probably more common than currently estimated due to under-reporting.

My intention here is not to suggest that statins have no place in the treatment of heart disease, but rather to give you the objective information you need to decide (along with your doctor) whether they are appropriate for you. The decision whether to take them should be based on whether you have pre-existing heart disease, what your overall risk of a heart attack is, how healthy your diet and lifestyle is, what other treatments you’ve already tried, and your own risk tolerance and worldview. It’s clear that statins reduce heart disease as well as the risk of death in those that have already had a heart attack, so if you’re in this group and you’ve already tried diet and lifestyle interventions without much impact on your lipid or inflammatory markers, you are more likely to benefit.

In the next and final article of this series, I’ll discuss three steps to preventing and reversing heart disease naturally, without drugs.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for FREE updates delivered to your inbox.

  • I hate spam too. Your email is safe with me.

Comments Join the Conversation

  1. tony Marasco says

    My doctors place a lot of weight in high LDL calc reading. Since the LDL is based on a formula that subtracts triglycerides thus lowering LDL . Makes no sense to me since high triglyceride readings are not good.. Please explain.

  2. Twinkle57 says

    66 yr old female uk. Cholesterol 7 and on high blood pressure pills. Slightly overweight, very fit and healthy (hbp aside) and resisted statins until two years ago when my husband died in Papworth. Despite NO FAMILY HISTORY OF HEART DISEASE on my side, all those sorry patients scared me, I capitulated and my GP put me on 40 Pravastatin!!!! I haven’t slept well since, having to get up many times in night to wee. Thinking of coming off them and to hell with the ‘threatened’ consequences from GP. I am so confused. Love the blog, Chris.

    • says

      Fix it all yourself by a good diet, go whole food plant based diet for a few months, you’d be amazed. No junk food, no processed food. Give yourself the chance you deserve.

  3. Chloe7 says

    Hi Doc, well all of this sounds just right and dandy but I find not a SINGLE, not ONE medical professional who is interested in our dilemma. My family has HeFH (the single mutation) – my mother (and all other women with it in our family) is fine -she’s 83. no heart problems. BUT MY SONS! one is 34 and has just had quintuple bypass. NO-ONE wants to address our diet – I am on LCHF and it worked for me – halved my numbers but my sons are dead afraid of it! and I think I’m the only one in the entire world who took the plunge and it worked for me. No-one is interested in our malady. So we take those darned pills and become incredibly ill on them – in fact, EYE think we could die on them, but no-one talks to us. The cardiologist sent my son a prescription for 80 mg (that’s EIGHTY) mg’s CRESTOR and out of fear he took only 40 and got so ill (kidneys) that he needed urgent help. So for us there is NOTHING.

  4. says

    I’m a 30-year Type I diabetic, 68 years old, yet my coronary artery calcium score by EBCT is zero – doc and I both baffled. Why? In ’84 I got rid of CFS with Cathcart’s bowel tolerance vitamin C – initially 140 grams per day for 3 weeks – never stopped taking 1-4 grams per day for fear of a relapse. In ’96 I learned of Pauling’s therapy for heart disease and realized I’d been on it for many years before he invented it. I’m convinced it works – I wonder how many of you think I’m deluded?

    • Mark says

      Very interesting. Whenever I have tried to take vitamin C supplements, I seem to get a cold or flu. Not sure what’s going on there….. Glad to hear it’s working for you. Does Dr. Cathcart have his own brand of vitamin C you can buy online?

      I believe Dr. Cathcart is deceased. He died at the age of 75. Do you happen to know his cause of death?

      • says

        Wow Mark that’s the opposite of my experience, I used to get 3 bout of bronchitis per year but with C I’ve had one in the last ten years.

        Tower Laboratories sells a Pauling therapy mix but I take plain old vitamin C from Rite Aid – Cathcart died of bladder cancer – Pauling died at 93 of prostate cancer I believe but both went how I want to go, late in life after a brief illness!

        • Mark says

          Thanks for the quick Reply Jonathan. Maybe I will try the vitamin C again. It could have been just coincidental I got sick when I was taking it. I used to get a bout of bronchitis every winter, similar to you, but have not had it for awhile now. I supplement with cod liver oil and vitamin D, along with magnesium and B-complex. The doctor said my vitamin D blood level was low. That’s why I started supplementing. The cod liver oil I take has vitamin D in it as well.

  5. Michael Watson says

    Chris,

    Please see the website for Dr. Duane Graveline, former Astronaut and Flight Surgeon with NASA amongst other accomplishments.
    spacedoc DOT net

    Dr. Graveline hosts a most comprehensive resource for the Statin health issues. He came upon this by self administering Lipitor and experiencing Transient Global Amnesia as a result. He has written 3 books detailing the negative health impact of statins. Research has indicated that use of statins creates a change in the Tau protiens within the brain which mimics brain tissue found in Alzheimer patients who allow the research of their brain tissue upon death. Statins are big pharma’s ideal rainmaker as so many of us have been brainwashed into believing that high cholesterol is automatically a death warrant and the leading cause of heart attack. The fact of the matter is that cholesterol is one of the key substances for brain tissue health. Those who have performed non biased studies on the proper use of statins state that only about 5% of men should actually be prescribed statins and that 0% of women should be prescribed statins.
    Thank you for spreading the word about the statin myth.

  6. Ellinas Ohio says

    I posted here before. Again, I was diagnosed last year with 20-39% left carotid artery blockage (otherwise healthy). I had my 6 month follow up carotid ultrasound just the other day, and more specifically, my blockage was 29% (instead of a range). My doctor started me on 5mg Crestor (daily) six months ago, and he says that the 29% is a good number. He thinks that the Crestor either halted or slightly reversed my carotid plaque, and he keeps mentioning how Crestor “melts away” cholesterol and plaque, providing my diet and exercise is good! He actually wanted to up my dose to 10mg daily, and basically I said “please, NO!” So he said I can continue the 5mg dose for now, but if the Crestor is to (again he uses this magical phrase!) “melt away” more of my plaque, I have to lose more weight, eat more salmon (fish oils), and cut down my carbs and sugar intake. The only reason I take the Crestor is because of my actual diagnosed heart disease (homogenous, stable carotid plaque). At first, I had a few muscle aches, but I am now tolerating the statin very well. I don’t know if my 29% left carotid blockage is indeed an improvement over my numbers 6 months ago, but I have a feeling that the Crestor actually helped me! Of course, I just hope that this statin isn’t doing any OTHER harm to my body! Comments welcome.

    • Mark says

      Ellinas Ohio,

      I believe we have to be careful about completely considering statin therapy as a “bad” thing. My cholesterol numbers improved after starting on Lipitor. Weight loss and a fairly strict diet would not get my bad cholesterol numbers down. So that’s the reason I chose to go on the statin. Just my opinion. Everyone has to do what they feel is best for them, hopefully with the helpful advice of a good doctor.

    • says

      well, it’s not gonna be the Crestor that “melts” the stuff away, it’ll be the good diet and exercise. Lose some weight, get off junk food, no processed food, and that’s bread too, no sugar, and you’ll get off the Crestor and everything else. I know it can be difficult, but so is heart attacks, having your heart cracked, etc. Luck. Oh, yes, I do practice what I preach.

  7. Fraser Burling says

    The benefits of statins grow less as newer studies come out. The only study to go 15 years, the PROSPER study (PLOSone, Sept 2013) showed reduction of heart attacks but no life benefit! This included secondary prevention patients! In fact more people died in the active group 42.5% than in the control group 42.4% (not statistically significant but still on the wrong side for “benefit”). So if there really is a life benefit in statins then it is only in short term use in secondary prevention. We don’t know if the short term use (less than 5 years) still results in longer term worse mortality (over 15 years) as no drug company will do the study in view of the results out so far. Then in JAMA 23 October 2013 we see that statins in intensive care increased mortality 21.2% vs 15.2% in control group. That study was stopped early otherwise the mortality would have been statistically significant – meaning that the drug companies would have had to actually address the increase in mortality issue. Remember drug companies are more interested in your money than your health.
    Then there is the prospective population-based study that showed people with the highest cholesterol lived the longest (Honolulu Heart study: Lancet 4 August 2001) while those with the lowest cholesterol (including those on statins) died soonest. That was despite accounting for heart disease for those on statins in the analysis.
    For heart health nothing beats smoking cessation, a healthy diet (closer to natural the better, the more processed the worse), and aerobic exercise.
    To your good health and evidence-based medicine.

  8. Claudia says

    Hi, my husbands doctor recommended statins to my husband today (a former addict – pain med’s), because he has super high cholesterol and is a smoker (he has not been able to quit smoking, although he has been able to reduce the amount he smokes every day). Are Statins really the first best choice, if life style changes such as stopping to smoke, exercise, diet etc. are just not achievable at the present time (hope he just needs to get his extremely low iron levels, Vit. D up first).

  9. Lynn says

    Hi,
    I know this is an older thread but hoping for some advice. I’m 48, in good health. I’m a primal/paleo eater, have been for 3years. My weight is excellent, non smoker. Had a physical this week and all numbers were great with the exception of my LDL. Here are my numbers: Total 258, LDL 167(last yr 190), HDL, 85, Triglycerides 28. Doc wants to put me on statins because my dad had heart disease and had his first heart attack at 55 BUT he was a chain smoker, his diet consisted of Oreos and Pepsi and he was a prominent defense lawyer defending criminals, worked excessive hours. She said under the new guidelines, those numbers would be ok but because of my father and the fact that I already do everything right (nothing to improve on) she thinks I should go on Lipitor. I’m a firm believer that big pharma does not have our best interests at heart. I don’t want to be a ticking time bomb but don’t want to go on something that may hurt me in the long run. So my question is because my dad made horrible choices, I’m doomed too and i now i have to go on a drug for life? PS: dad had a 2nd heart attack 7 ys later, after his first and after improving his lifestyle. He is still alive at 78. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

    • says

      My dad managed to hang on until he was about 75. He had 3 heart attacks, 2 of which he survived, 2 bypass surgeries. He was a terrible smoker, a non-exerciser, and bad eater. Few veggies, fruits, a lot of meat, sat. fats, scads of sugar in his coffee. I totally ignore his background for any relevance to my “genes” or health predictability. Likewise, my mom died from cigarette cancer, and ignore her cancer in my health predictability, since I don’t smoke, exercise, and eat pretty healthy. It just doesn’t count. My grandparents, on the other hand, did none of the above, and lived long, healthy lives.

    • says

      well, you know, you have a choice in this. My dad also was a heavy smoker, bad food, no exercise, everything against good health. My mom also was a heavy smoker, no exercise, etc. Dad had 2 heart attacks, 2 bypasses, died from clogged artery. Mom died earlier from “body” cancer, caused from lung cancer. I discount both of them from my family history in health. I figure that illnesses in people are caused by lifestyle as much or more than genes. My good lifestyle counters their lifestyle, which was passed to me, but which I “threw off”. Instead, I look to my grandparents, who did not smoke, etc. and lived long lives. Just my thoughts.

  10. jeffg says

    My Father got put on statins and I flipped out. Made him go on an 16/8 intermittent fasting diet instead. 2 months later his numbers were perfect and no statins required. I’m 45 and my numbers are perfect on 16/8, my GP was even bewildered saying I am getting numbers a fit 16yr old would have.

  11. Sue says

    Any hints on how to find a doctor that doesn’t push statins? A list maybe? I’ve had long conversations with my internist about all of the nasty side effects I had while on them and he STILL tries to get me back on them almost every time I see him. Plus, since I’m turning 60, I thought it might be time to find a cardiologist, but am not looking forward to the series of arguments I’m going to have to have before I find one who will listen to me instead of what happened the one time I met with one. He outright told me that, if I wouldn’t help myself, he couldn’t help me! Any suggestions?

    • Maguerite says

      Sue, I feel 100% the same as you do. Plus a friendly cardiologist will also be nice, but he HAS to firstly support my high fat diet. They don’t exist!

      • Mark says

        Good luck finding a cardiologist who does not push statins. I have been on Lipitor for 15 years. I am 59 years old and have been seeing a cardiologist since I was 44 because I had my first event of atrial fibrillation when I was 38. I’ve had two catheter ablation surgeries for atrial tachycardia and the atrial fibrillation within the last 4 years which seems to have helped those heart rhythm irregularities. When I was in my 40’s I had tried to get my cholesterol down with diet. The only kind of diet I can lose weight on is low carb. Exercise seems to be good for my overall health, but it does basically nothing for me as far as weight loss. Even the low carb diet does not seem to have a major benefit in reducing my cholesterol. I have somewhat of a family history of high cholesterol. I finally relented in 1999 at the age of 44, on the advice of a cardiologist, to go on Lipitor. I was amazed at how it lowered my cholesterol, even when eating fatty foods. I thought, “Wow this is great”. I have had some muscle cramping over the years that I was concerned may be caused by the Lipitor. I told my cardiologist about it and he attributed it to something else, not the statin. Also, when my cholesterol started becoming more elevated, my cardiologist increased my Lipitor dose from 10 mg to 20 mg. I have been on 20 mg for about 7 years. I was diagnosed with cataracts about 5 years ago and I’m thinking the statin may have caused that.

        After reading this article, I’m concerned about the long term effects of the Lipitor. I supplement with 100 mg of CoQ10 twice daily, magnesium, cod liver oil, vitamin B complex and vitamin D3. I think that has helped me avoid some of the side effects. I occasionally have muscle cramping and twitching and am concerned about that. I wanted to get my internist to check the blood levels of CoQ10, but she gave some excuse to where it was not necessary, so I’m going to an independent lab and have it checked myself. I’m also getting my CPK levels checked to determine if there is muscle damage.

        I don’t really like to think of having to go off the statin because I am quite confident my LDL cholesterol will start going up again. I need to lose about 30 pounds and exercise more. The thought of having to follow a strict regimen including a low carb diet, with vigorous exercise, trying to lose the weight, is scary for me. Weight loss is not easy for me. I believed I inherited the “fat” gene from my mother’s side of the family. My uncle weighs over 300 pounds and is diabetic. He had triple bypass surgery when he was 60 years old. So you can see why the thought of going off the statin is scary. Will wait and see what my CoQ10 and CPK blood levels look like and go from there. Does it come to the point of deciding whether to die with heart disease without the statins or die from cancer with the statins?????

  12. Nick a says

    Great article. I would consider adding neuropathy – a highly dibilitating condition with great numbers of sufferers–as a side effect. Look up statin-induced neuropathy and you’ll see overwhelming data and studies proving cause and effect. Some of these studies are published in prominent american medical association journals. I’ve been unable to stand or walk for 7 years due to advancing neuropathy. I was treated by top Mass Gen Hospital neurologists and Harvard Medical School teaching docs but the cause of my neuropathy was not found. Then last week I came across the data implicating the statins I’ve been on. I stopped taking the statins and in only one week I can stand and walk. For me its a miracle.

  13. Robert says

    My mother was first prescribed Lipitor by her g.p. when she was in her early ’70s. After a few weeks my mother had tremendous pain in her legs and upper arms. My mother didn’t suffer from arthritis or any other degenerative ailments.

    Brining this problem to her doctor’s attention he took her off of the Lipitor and prescribed her Vytorin. This statin was the holy grail of BAD medicine. After only a few days on Vytorin my mother began having horrible, and I mean horrible bouts of acid reflux. It was so severe that my mother would be in tears from the abdominal cramping and acid reflux. Also, my mother could barely walk due to advanced pain in her legs.

    Another complaint to her g.p. and he say’s bluntly, “Don’t take the Vytorin anymore. You don’t need it” My mother aborted the drug and within a few days the acid reflux was gone! And after several weeks the muscle cramping subsided substantially, but there were still everlasting effects of minor muscle pain in her legs that went away after a few months.

    Years later my mother was assigned to a cardiologist. My mother was once again prescribed Lipitor. My mother was concerned since she had such a miserable experience with the drug before. Her cardiologist assured her that the pains were just “part of old age,” and that, “Lipitor is perfectly safe.” Well, after a week on Lipitor the leg cramping returned and then the bouts of indigestion resumed just like the Vytorin caused.

    I talked to her cardiologist about how adversely it was effecting my mother. All this cardiologist could say is, “It doesn’t happen.” He was a total a-hole. Major ego syndrome where “he can do no wrong.”

    My poor mother underwent several surgeries under general anesthesia for stents at the age of 83, and she was weaker and less cognitive after each procedure.

    My mother was also on seven drugs total prescribed by her cardiologist. She was on Plavis which caused severe bruising and bleeding. Her cardiologist’s response to that was, “That just means it’s working.” Again this doc was (is) an arrogant a-hole. Her energy levels continued to plummet, and her once bubbly and vivacious personality was wiped away.

    My mother eventually succumbed to kidney and liver failure (my mother rarely ever had alcoholic beverages). I believe the three years she was on so many many of those medications it ravaged her frail body combined with the rounds of general anesthesia.

    Any doc who says that general anesthesia is perfectly safe is a bold face liar. My mother passed from this world at the age of 86.

    Do I take what a doctor says with face value any more? Hell no! However, I’d be a fool to discount all doctors as being arrogant jerks; there are some truly brilliant, open minded and genuinely caring doctors out there. But from my mother’s and my personal experience with doctors, it made me sooooo skeptical of what one doctor says as being “the final word.”

    I would like to add that my mother loved to eat bread, cakes, pies, lots of carbs and little protein. She was raised on those foods. My mother, however, wasn’t overweight though. Her mother (my grandmother) was an outstanding baker.

    But we now know how ravaging sugar is to our vascular system. Get this, my mother’s cardiologist told her to: use an egg substitute (don’t ever eat real eggs), use a sugar substitute, don’t eat meat, use a salt substitute and use margarin instead of butter! What could be farther from the truth!!!! ARRRRGH! He says to abstain from all of the necessary foods and never mentioned all of the breads and high carbs she was eating as the culprit to her heart disease.

    Regarding a sugar substitute he recommended Sweet n’ Low that’s pure saccharine! Wonderful, hug? Most hospitals and doctors are way behind the times when it comes to nutrition. From what I’ve read medical students only get about forty hours total training in nutrition in their six+ years of medical training.

    • says

      Robert, am so sorry to hear about your mom. You know, we are taught “listen to your body!”. Just gotta do it, no matter what these horrible docs tell us. They are on the payroll of the big pharmas, etc. It is ALL about $. Your mom could have had such a better end-of-life, had she just ignored the docs…but that is HARD to do. We have to learn to immune ourselves. I had a friend who started taking some antihistamine, she called the doc and got the std statement: oh, that just proves it’s working. The next day she was in the ER, the next day, in the morgue. She was in early 40’s.

  14. John Baker says

    I just have to say thanks for putting this information together.

    Up until last year I had been an avid cyclist. This last Fall and Winter I was pretty inactive and ate a terrible diet. About 3 weeks ago I went to see my doctor and wasn’t happy with my weight. So I started on low glycemic index/loading diet and started exercising again. About 8 days later I had full blood work done at my doctor and my ldl level was 166 which is considered high.

    Even though I have made the change to a healthy diet, the first words out of my doctors mouth was “medicate”. That’s all that new doctors know seem to any more. I told him that I refuse to take a statin and he is insistent that it is an absolute necessity.

    Again, thanks for putting this information together.

    • Ellinas Ohio says

      There is a truly excellent book out called ‘The Truth About Statins’ by Dr. Barbara H. Roberts, M.D. She delves into whether people should take statins if they are on ‘primary prevention’ vs. ‘secondary prevention’. I would suggest you closely read this book, and come to your own conclusion along with your doc (or get a second or third opinion).

  15. Andrew says

    Hi Chris,
    Would you mind posting some of your sources. This is very interesting but I can only take it with a pinch of salt until I can see a little proof of some of the facts and figures you’ve been giving.
    Great article though and I hope anyone reading this that may be suffering from heart disease start thinking of alternatives like exercise and change in diet.

  16. Ellinas Ohio says

    I’ve 52, otherwise healthy, and have been on Crestor 5mg for a few months now, after my Cardiologist discovered 20 to 39% homogenous plaque in my left carotid artery (he did an ultrasound scan). I have a harder time concentrating and feel like my brain is ‘in a fog’ at times. Plus, on certain days, I get muscle pain between my shoulder blades. I had a complete blood work 8 weeks after I started taking this statin, and my doc told me that my kidney and liver ‘markers’ looked good, so I am tolerating the drug. How can I be ‘tolerating’ it when it’s causing cognitive dysfunction and my slight muscle pain and discomfort?! On the positive side, i’ve lost some weight, and my other numbers (APO, particle size, cholesterol, LDL, HDL, etc.) were all perfect according to him. Whereas just before my diagnosis they were not. Plus, my doc tells me that he has some patients who showed mild to very significant plaque regression within their carotids, while on the Crestor! But of course, I am wondering, AT WHAT COST? I have read articles that claim statin damage the body and muscles over time, and that they actually CREATE heart disease by often hardening the arteries! This is, of course, VERY disconcerting and even maddens me! WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?! We truly live in a day and age of conflicting claims, and it has become impossible even for those like me that read and try to educate themselves, to sort through it all!

    • charles grashow says

      Are you taking CoQ10? I would suggest 100mgs 2x/day to start. I would also suggest a blood test to check on CoQ10 levels.

      Have you had your CK levels measured?

      • Ellinas Ohio says

        Yes, I take 100mg of CoQ10 a day. I re-took a complete blood workup recently, and my inflammation markers and others that previously indicated that I have ‘metabolic syndrome’, were normalized. The Crestor is apparently helping me in that regard, but at what cost?! My shoulder blade area is sore, and even hurts at times, no doubt due to the Crestor side effects. I sometimes feel weak and tired, and get fleeting ‘pins and needles’ feelings on certain parts of my body. My blood test also indicated that I am apparently tolerating the drug (liver and kidney markers) well. Of course, my intermittent side effects would tell me otherwise! And on top of this, I have read articles on the internet that statins actually may CAUSE arteries to harden! If I was on ‘primary prevention’ I would NEVER take this drug. But for ‘secondary prevention’ (actual CV disease diagnosis/Carotid plaque) as in my case, 2 Cardiologists told me that I have to take it in order to stop carotid plaque growth or even get plaque regression. I’m stuck ‘in between a rock and a hard place’!

        • charles grashow says

          If you wish to stop carotid plaque growth or get plaque regression WITHOUT the use of statins then your only other choice may be a diet like Esselstyn, Ornish, Fuhrman or Pritikin.

          These are the only two options that have been proven to work.

          Other than articles which recommend therapies like the Pauling Protocol, etc. which have not been verified in peer reviewed journals.

          There

  17. DM says

    Your doctor is ignorant and does not know what he is talking about whatsoever. Please see this interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hbNSHPco0g. In this interview she explains very in depth precisely why NO ONE should be taking statins not even those with hypercholesterolemia. She explains why statins are actually very bad for the heart and cause widespread catastrophic damage. Statins are a huge fraud and make billions of dollars for drug companies and are damaging millions of people. They may help in rare cases for people who refuse to change their diet and lifestyle but compared to real solutions to cholesterol and cardiovascular problems they amount to total fraud. See my post above on may 15th of last year to see what the most important things are for cardiovascular health. Nutrition and lifestyle changes are the answer, drugs are not and never will be. I would get a new doctor, one that actually understands physiological problems in terms of what the body really needs – which is NEVER a drug. There are also many effective natural solutions to hypertension, such as grapeseed extract, astaxanthin, tocotrienols, ubiquinol, and quercetin and balancing insulin and leptin, balancing omega 3/omega 6 intake, and becoming well mineralized, which are also all very effective at balancing cholesterol and for cardiovascular health. If you find a good doctor he/she will likely be able to take you off of the liprinosil and solve the problem naturally and safely without the need for drugs.

    Best wishes!

    • charles grashow says

      @DM

      One could also check out celery seed extract for hypertension as well.

      HOWEVER – there are cases where someone needs to take a drug to control their hypertension as supplements/changes in diet do not work for everyone.

      As to statins what would you say to someone who has FH? What dietary changes would you make it you had FH?

      • helen says

        I too (54 yo female, fit, normal BMI, healthy diet) have been told I must take Statins due toFH (although they cannot check this as I have no surviving close family) but I have very high cholesterol and further tests have shown I have an Lp-PLA reading of 277 (which apparently IS an indicator of high risk plaque formation). Can find nothing on whether my prescribed Statins would help with this. Whatever, they make me feel SO ill and depressed I am giving them up and have been given a prescription from the nutritionist which includes niacin, fish oils, curcumin and cholesterase.

          • helen says

            Only Rosuvastatin. My prescription is for 20mg per day but I am sawing them in half! I was only on them for 2 weeks before I started feeling awful…

            • charles grashow says

              What reason did the doctor give you for such a high starting dosage? Were you advised to take CoQ10 with the statin?

        • charles grashow says

          @Helen

          Have you had either the NMR or the VAP test?

          It would be of value if you knew your LDL-P and small LDL-P totals

          • helen says

            I had an indepth blood test last year but for some reason it only gives a reading for LDL-size Large (pattern a) – which is 21.1
            the small (pattern b) box is empty…

            • HELEN says

              Rereading my results I have some “size” results under my insulin resistance scores of HDL size 8.8
              LDL size 21.1
              VLDL size 25
              are these of any significance to what you asked?! I know they are printed in orange so are not “good” results…

      • DM says

        There are many other things i did not mention that can help with hypertension, including gynostemma, garlic, turmeric, cayenne, hawthorne, and many other substances (yes including celery seed extract). Supporting the lymph system with rebounding, arabinogalactin, etc. Eating foods like broccoli sprouts, noni, and miso. Avoiding sugar and wheat. intermittent fasting, Reducing inflammation, etc, etc. Perhaps in rare cases a drug is necessary but usually with a very skilled naturopathic doctor a drug will not be necessary – it will often depend on what dietary changes a person is willing to make.

        As for FH, there are varying opinions amongst nutritionists, the opinion of Dr. Seneff in the interview I reference is that not even those with FH should be taking statins. It should first be realized that high cholesterol is not nearly as unhealthy as big pharma wants us to think it is. There are many studies showing high cholesterol is healthier than low cholesterol. Even the Framingham study shows this for certain age groups (>47). And I am not saying high cholesterol is healthy, just not as unhealthy as claimed by those making billions of dollars from it. Cholesterol is one of the most important and healthy substances in the human body. It is essential for hormones, brain function, heart function, gut function, childhood development, etc. It is oxidized cholesterol that is of particular concern and it is LDL-P and ratios that are actually more important and these are heavily influenced by diet and lifestyle even with FH. So if a person has FH and high cholesterol, what are their ratios, what is the LDL-P what kind of oxidation is going on? And there are many more questions to ask. It is not just a matter of a number. In my opinion, most FH could be handled without statins by skillful application of nutrition. But again it would depend on what changes a person is willing to make. And it may mean a person has to just live with high cholesterol as long as their ratios and other markers are good and the oxidation is low. Doctors are often all about just getting a number, which shows very little understanding about how the body actually works and what it needs.

        As far as what dietary changes I would make, that is quite a complicated question and could vary greatly from person to person. Everyone is different and thats why such problems need very knowledgeable and skillful application of nutrition and lifestyle changes which usually means a highly trained person needs to be involved who actually understands physiology at a very deep level and is not just a drug expert/pusher as most doctors are.

        There many many nutritional interventions for healthy cholesterol. Things like omega 3’s, reduction of omega 6, coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil, black cumin seed oil, niacin, tocotrienols, curcuminoids, pomegranate, enzymes, optimal D3 (and K2) levels, magnesium, chromium, antioxidants, the right types of protein, the right types of vegetables and fruit, optimal gut flora balance (fermented foods), avoiding sugar and wheat and rancid fats, weight control, balancing insulin and leptin, exercise and on and on and on. Statins will never compete with what is available nutritionally. How much of these nutrients to take and what foods to eat varies widely, but there are many highly effective tools that a skilled nutritionist can use to balance cholesterol and reduce oxidation. I think statins should be banned. I believe they have caused more deaths and suffering than they have prevented. They have made more money for the drug industry than any other drug in history so of course the all powerful drug industry fights very hard to keep them around and to maintain the illusion they are actually helpful and that high cholesterol is terrible and must be lowered at any cost or else a heart attach is imminent. That is simply not true.

        Hope that helps a little bit. Take care.

      • DM says

        Well I will try this again, the comment did not seem to get posted? If it does at a later time, then please ignore the double post.

        So charles, I wanted to give you a link to a lecture by byron richards, an excellent CCN, who discusses what causes high blood pressure, what to do about it, and why drugs are never needed except in emergency situations for a short period of time. He discusses why the blood pressure medications are very toxic and damaging and should be avoided. Enjoy!

        http://www.wellnessresources.com/audio/telecourse-class14-blood-pressure.mp3

        • charles grashow says

          I don’t take any meds for my slightly high blood pressure – I use celery seed extract and fish peptace.

    • andrea says

      DM, are you still reading these posts? would like to run a scenario by you. healthy, runner, cyclist, lipid numbers all great, but a “less than 20%, yet significant” amount of plaque showed up in a carotid artery ultrasound (was having chest pains, which have subsided – went to cardiologist who gave me three tests) i am 51, a jogged 6 miles this morning – in fact, the cardiologist was amazed at how long it took him to get my pulse up to double in my echo cardiogram/stress test. anyway, i also eat clean – very clean, and don’t smoke. daily, moderate to little wine intake.

      cardiologist wants me in low does statins for the plaque. thoughts? thank you in advance.

      • Honora says

        Another cause of plaque is hyperhomocystinemia. We don’t hear much about this condition which affects around 13% of the population because the treatment is….vitamins, namely Vit B12 and folate.

  18. Skygazer32 says

    On the advice of a friend I questioned my cardiologist above any real benefit or the need for me to take a statin. He seemed reluctant to entertain a discussion. I suggested that there is a lot of chatter these days and most of it seems to be pointing to a scam by the drug industry.

    I was originally prescribed a statin after having a routine physical. The physical determined I had an irregular ekg, so I went to a cardiologist who confirmed the irregularity and a stress test and ecg were performed. The result was that irregularity was normal for me and said the other tests determined I had the heart of a 20 year old (I am 46, white male, 185 pounds, 5’7″, bordeline hypertension and take liprinosil for that. Also have history of father with coronary artery disease at very young age- he had triple bypass surgery at age 38).

    The reason he suggested a statin was based on family history. Now, though I might be at greater risk because of family history I question how taking a statin would improve that meaningfully.

    His response was, “Well, I take it and I have no risk factors. It can’t hurt.” I have been taking it for a year known mainly on the basis of, “it can’t hurt”. Now that I have more time to research I think that is a ridiculous way to prescribe. But I’m still confused- should I or shouldn’t I?

  19. Sean says

    Guys I’m back. So I’ve been to a specialist that told me I should take red yeast rice, because I told him I would not go on Statins. The red yeast rice lowered my cholesterol from 267 to 216 I’ve been having side effects which include dry skin and bowel trouble. I’m not sure if I should be taking red yeast rice anymore. My dad and my doctor kind of made me start taking it because I told them I would not take Statins. My specialist thinks I might familial hypercholesterolima. My mom has 230 overall for her cholesterol. Dad has 205 and his sister has 254 she takes Statins to help lower hers. I’m 20 years old all have outlined my diet in recent posts :). None of my family members are overweight. My thyroid is 203 which I was told is considered normal

  20. Gary says

    Chris,
    I’d like your opinion – I am 50 y.o. and have CAD, chest pain and positive stress test at 46, cardiac cath showed 90% blockage in LAD, 99% in RCA. 5 stents placed as RCA was very challenging. I never had a heart attack. Docs initially put me on standard protocol of lisinopril, metoprolol, aspirin and simvastatin. I discontinued lisinopril and metoprolol within days, and simvastatin within weeks. I have continued to take low-dose aspirin. My lipid profile was still high w/o statin – I have low HDL (never above 40) and high triglycerides. LDL was moderately high, esp. in context of CAD. I have a history of IBD, now in remission, but did take low dose steroids for several years.

    So, I made lifestyle changes – I was about 20# overweight which I promptly lost and reduced fat intake (but not radically). I started taking 5mg Crestor about a year ago w/o any obvious side effects. Despite regular exercise 45min-1hour 4X/week, my morning blood sugar continued to be in 120-130 range. I just reluctantly agreed to use metformin – at least for a while – while reducing simple carbs – as I am quite concerned about reducing/reversing further CAD, esp. given I am only 50. Two weeks in, my morning BS is in 108-116 range.

    What are your thoughts about statin use for me? Metformin? Other recommendations? I only eat grass-fed beef and pastured poultry and eggs, lots of organic veggies, take CoQ10, fish oil, probiotics and continue low-dose aspirin. I have reduced carb intake significantly.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  21. Karen says

    Anyone either currently on a statin or considering filling an Rx for one should watch this video: Heart of the Matter Part 2 – Cholesterol Drug War http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/. Part 1 was also excellent and discusses the whole “saturated fat causes heart disease by raising cholesterol myth.” Both programs aired on a science TV show in Australia, but feature interviews with several US doctors, researches, nutritionists and science writers.

  22. Ellinas Ohio says

    I understand that taking a statin for ‘primary prevention’ is not a good idea. But for ‘secondary prevention’ for someone with DIAGNOSED cardiovascular disease, Cardiologists insist that it is necessary in order to halt or reverse plaque, stabilize plaque, reduce inflammation, and to help prevent stroke, heart attacks, etc. I’m a 52 year old, 5′ 7″ male who recently (over the summer) passed a heart stress test with flying colors, BUT my carotid artery scan (taken 2 weeks ago) showed a homogenous 20-39% plaque on my left carotid artery (asymptomatic)! My doc told me to of course continue my Norvasc and Toprol XL (for hypertension), and to start 5mg Crestor daily. I filled out the prescription for Crestor, but have not taken any pills yet, wanting to thoroughly research statins before I started popping them. I am deathly afraid to, given all the negative talk (which I believe) on the internet. I am getting a ‘second opinion’ in a few days with another Cardiologist, but my guess is that he will tell me the same… mainly, take the Crestor. Why is Crestor so important (necessary?) to take for someone with newly diagnosed carotid artery plaque/stenosis? Does it really make a positive difference? And at what health cost? I am SO confused and depressed. Especially considering that after my positive stress test outcome this past August, I went on a complete lifestyle change to better my health! I dropped from 231 pounds to 208 currently, and my goal is 175. I’m on a Meditteranean type diet, eating some fruits, veggies, sprouted grain bread, sardines/salmon, and chicken breast. I walk my dog daily, as well as doing 30 to 40 minutes on my treadmill. I was on the road to good health, when I got this bombshell dropped on me, and now I can’t sleep because of all the conflicting claims out there! Sigh.

    • DM says

      ellinas, I will give you my opinion on this. I am a nutrition researcher, not a medical professional, so take it for what its worth. First please read all my posts above under “DM” and make sure you watch the video by Dr. Stephanie Seneff. I also list out the most important nutrients for heart health in one of the posts. However, as I said to Sean, you need to become your own health expert by reading and listening. You can get all of the information you need online and through books, but of course sometimes that information is not good, so you have to learn to filter what is good and what is bad. I would suggest doing a lot of reading on mercola.com, naturalnews.com, drhyman.com, greenmedinfo.com, and wellnessresources.com about statins, cholesterol, heart disease, and hypertension. It will be quite an education and very eye opening when you realize almost everything that conventional doctors do for these issues is completely wrong. There are many other great sites as well, including this one.

      It is my opinion you should not be on any of these drugs, however, you will need to continue your dietary changes and exercise routines. Most conventional doctors are just too ignorant and unteachable to suggest anything other than a drug. You will probably need to dramatically change your diet and add supplements. I would stay away from sprouted wheat for example – not heart healthy! You should probably stay away from most high sugar fruits as well, but because everyone is different you will have to find out what works well for you. You will also need to start adding in healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil, krill oil, etc. You may also need to dramatically decrease your omega 6 intake. Etc. You need to take control of your health and read and find out what is actually gonna work for you. If you can afford to find a naturopathic doctor that would be good. A naturopathic doctor can help guide you to real health without drugs. Conventional doctors are only gonna suggest drugs, drugs, and more drugs – its so sad.

      The good news is that you can dramatically improve your health (and clear your ateries) with nutrition and lifestyle changes without drugs and the information on how to do this is readily available. There are some really good books by Raymond Francis that would be very encouraging for you to read. He is an older man who dramatically improved his health via nutrition and lifestyle changes without drugs. Im not saying everything he says is right, but it would be very encouraging for you and a great place to start.

      Good luck! Best wishes!

      • MarkJr says

        You said to stay away from sprouted wheat. Does that mean no Ezekiel bread? I thought the sprouted grain breads were supposed to be healthier than regular whole wheat bread?

        • DM says

          Mark, I would avoid all wheat whether it is sprouted or not. See the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis to understand why wheat in any form is one of the most unhealthy grains a person can eat. If you are going to eat wheat, ezekiel bread would be one of the better breads to eat.

    • Mary Ann Young Robinson says

      I tried Crestor when it first came out and it made me very sick. One thing I have learned is: Be very cautious with any newer drugs…that haven’t been around long enough to work the kinks out. I would ask to stick with either Lipitor or even maybe even Zetia which goes through the stomach instead the liver. I can’t believe you are on Toprol like me and you haven’t even had a heart attack. Being scared will not help you, be aggressive and keep reading and ignore 50% of what the MD’s are telling you as they do not get it! And don’t take that aspirin every day. I took it for years, but now see that it is not a great thing after all. (scars arteries) I quit going to a Cardiologist after 10 years. I was encouraged to try a new one and she said to me (when I told her i didn’t want to take a statin or aspriin) “Are you trying to kill yourself”? Now even though she believes her stuff, how condescending is that? I read all the time. I am not stupid. I have DDD and am in pain management. But how many pills do I need to live? Only the Lord really knows, but I will be selective. You should be too!

      • Mary Ann Young Robinson says

        ALSO….using coconut oil every day in whatever (oatmeal, 1/2 and Grape See Oil baking and other, I uped my good cholesterol before I started back on Lipitor…it does work! Save the Olive Oil for salads and adding to.

    • helen says

      Me too. I am so stressed over all the conflicting stuff I am reading. Although I have a pretty healthy diet and lifestyle my doctors and lipid clinic are convincing me that I have hyperfamilial cholesteromia and will be at great risk if I do not take statins. I have resisted until now but began taking them t three weeks ago. I either have flu or the statins are giving me the symptoms of it – feel ghastly. I also have high Lp-pla2. A nutritionist got my levels down last year (but not enought say the docs). Just don’t know who to believe!

  23. says

    OK. My mother is almost 96. She had the high cholesterol, high triglycerides and BP for years. After being on those “helpful” statins all those years, her legs got weaker and weaker until she was wheelchair bound. She is in deep dementia now, delusional. The only reason I went back on a low (10) statin is I had a heart attack at 47 and the doctors put extreme pressure on me. My numbers are better, but will it really keep me from having a heart attack? Probably not, as I am an emotional eater. I am watching my D, C. K. B’s, minerals, etc. I just got tired of fighting the medicos. But 10 is the limit. I am on disability for DDD, so I use Medicare for payment for the doctors…if I could afford otherwise, I would certainly go to the Naturapathic and Natural all the time…and I highly respect Mercola, Ranger, Hyman and all the ones that have opened their eyes to see outside the Pharma/Medicine teaching of “a pill a day keeps the doctor away”!!!!!!

    • Mark says

      I’m curious to understand why you suffered a heart attack at such an early age of 47 when your mother lived to be 96. A major risk factor in heart disease seems to be family history. Is there a family history of heart disease on your father’s side?

      • Mary says

        Just saw your comment. My mother passed on March 30th of Dementia Behaviors. She was of healthy stock except for Diabetes I which took her father at 48 in the 1920’s and my brother at 62 in 2008. My own father died at 50 of
        Congestive Heart Failure, but #1, He smoked most of his life, #2, He probably had what we now call Bipolar, took old fashioned tranquilizers and had high blood pressure. He also had a chest/heart injury at 9 yrs old where a truck ran over his chest and he survived, later to play sports and lead an active lifestyle. I believe my heart attack was caused primarily from marital stress, self-medicating for Degenerative Disk Disease, and just had started Paxil. Although my cholesterol was somewhat high, many people have high cholesterol without having a heart attack. Thankfully I only had one blockage, had stent/angio and am now almost 63. I am too heavy and am not able to get much exercise where I live. We are evaluating a better place to live now that my mother is gone and we can be more flexible. We like to spend time in NM where my husband packs with goats. Thank for your interest…and OH! I just went back on 10 Lipitor after getting off again…I still am confused!

  24. Tony says

    My total cholesterol hovers around 220 – 240 even though I eat fairly healthy – fish, chicken, veggies, very little processed food or carbs, in general. However, the company I work for has guidelines we have to meet for our health insurance. One of those is that my total cholesterol has to be below 200. I take Crestor and it keeps my cholesterol around 140 – 150. If I didn’t take Crestor my insurance premiums would jump from $300 per month to nearly $1100. So, even though Crestor probably won’t save my life, it will save me a lot of money.

  25. Sean says

    Thank you so much DM!!! :) I watched the interview with Dr.Seneff really great video. I eat fish oil pills three times a week nothing else. I usually don’t cook the yolk:) I have apples every day, Spinach, olive oil, yogurt with blueberries. Tilapia, sardines from Canada, chicken breasts, avacado, almond butter, almond milk, onions sweet potato, also do intermittent fasting and I do interval training for 35 minutes three times a week. Thank you again for the links and I’m actually going to see a thyroid specialist in a couple weeks.

    • DM says

      You’re very welcome. Your diet and lifestyle (intermittent fasting and interval training) sound pretty good actually. One thing I would suggest for you to try for the cholesterol would be krill oil combined with coconut oil – on a daily basis. The reason is because I have seen this dramatically affect other people’s cholesterol levels. I would take at least 1-2 grams of krill (maybe more) and at least a tablespoon of coconut oil a day. You may need to build up on the coconut oil and start with a teaspoon, but you should be able to at least build up to a TBSP and you may actually need much more depending on your unique metabolism. I take 2-4 TBSP a day for example of coconut oil and my body loves it but I know that would be way too much for some people. As I said everyone is different. One big note of importance, take the krill oil at the SAME TIME as the coconut oil. They work synergistically together and both enhance each others activity in the body. I know of people who simply could not lower their cholesterol with anything until they tried krill oil and suddenly it dramatically lowered. So it is worth a try to replace your fish oil with krill oil – it is a little expensive, but much less expensive than drugs. You can eat the coconut oil in several ways, such as in a smoothie or even cooking your eggs in it – but find a way that is palatable to you or else you will soon get sick of it and stop eating it. I mostly eat my coconut oil in a coffee smoothie I make every morning actually and it works great.

      Also, there are specific supplements that help with cholesterol levels, such as tocotrienols, niacin, enzymes, and astaxanthin. And you need to also make sure your gut flora is balanced. That means fermented foods and probiotic supplements – extremely important for all aspects of health including cholesterol balance. Note, unless the yogurt is homemade it does NOT count as a fermented food, but kefir does. You could try some organic goat milk kefir for example with a little stevia, it is delicious and a great source of probiotics. Fermented coconut water kefir would also be a great choice – which you can easily make at home – and its cheap, you can get all you need for about 5-10 dollars a week. The kefir starter is a little expensive, but not too bad and will last for a quite a while – I would suggest Donna Gates kefir starter for coconut water.

      Again, try to find a good naturopathic doctor who really understands cholesterol issues and how to manage them with nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle. A conventional doctor will typically not be able to help in these areas and will only resort to drugs. I would also make sure to look up Dr. David Brownstein and listen to one of the 30 minute to 1 hour lectures on the thyroid and make sure the specialist you go to is in line with what Dr. Brownstein says.

      Best wishes.

  26. DM says

    Sean, first it is important to realize that the dangers of high cholesterol are way overrated. In fact high cholesterol has been shown in many studies to be healthier than low cholesterol. I can give you plenty of references in the medical literature if you want them. The demonization of high cholesterol mostly comes from the pharmaceutical industry because statins are the #1 money making drug in the world. Statins literally make billions of dollars for big pharma. There are many highly questionable studies funded by big pharma that supposedly show a relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease. However, there are so also many very solid studies not funded by big pharma that show the opposite.

    In my opinion you should absolutely not take statins, they are way too poisonous. See this interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hbNSHPco0g to understand why. Also see my post above where I list the catastrophic damage caused by statins. I would be very weary of conventional doctors, they are very ignorant about how to actually solve chronic health problems and almost always only resort to one thing: drugs. It is sad but true. I would find a naturopathic doctor who actually understand nutrition and not just drugs.

    Second, you need to try to figure out why your cholesterol is so unusually high. It is high for a reason and it may be genetic (hypercholesterolemia) or it may be something else, such as a thyroid problem. Please realize that just because your thyroid panel came back normal in no way means your thyroid is ok. Please look up Dr. David Brownstein online and listen to his lectures to understand that most doctors simply do not understand thyroid problems and do not understand how to diagnose subclinical thyroid problems. You again need to avoid conventional doctors and find a doctor who actually understands subclinical thyroid problems. If you try to handle this problem with a conventional doctor you are going to end up on a lifetime of meds and drug cocktails.

    There are many lifestyle and dietary things you can do to balance your cholesterol. Your diet sounds ok, but only ok – not very healthy. You need to become your own health expert and begin reading about what is actually healthy and what is not. For example, do you consume fish oil or olive oil or coconut oil? Are you eating any fish? Are you eating any fermented foods? Is your gut flora out of balance? What are your D levels? Do you take magnesium, iodine, turmeric, astaxanthin, tocotrienols, enzymes? Are your hormones out of balance? Are you eating too many omega6 oils and not enough omega 3? Are you consuming enough fiber? A grass fed steak may be the very thing you need to start eating. Eggs are great if they are from the right source and cooked the right way – if you are eating scrambled over cooked non organic eggs that is bad. The yolk should be as raw as possible and the white should be cooked. You should do some reading and understand why. Chia seeds and quinoa are good, but it is better so soak the chia seeds before you eat them – should do some reading to find out why. Realize that there are many myths about what is healthy and what is not and that everyone is different. Some people need a lot of fat and protein and some people need a lot of carbs (vegetables, not starch). You need to figure out what works for you. A conventional doctor will absolutely not be able to tell you what a healthy diet is. You have to take control of your health and that requires education.

    I would begin reading sites like mercola.com, naturalnews.com, anything from David Wolfe, Dave Asprey (bullet proof diet), wellnessresources.com (Byron Richards), this site is good (chris kresser), etc. There is a lot to learn and it is complicated but you can do it, the resources are available – take the time to start learning. If you dont and you just naively trust that “doctors know best”, you will end up on a cocktail of drugs and most likely have poor health for the rest of your life. It is sad but true. The conventional medical industry is run by corporations interested in profits not your health, primarily big pharma. In general, doctors do NOT know what is best, there are exceptions but it is rare.

    Start reading, start listening. Find a qualified naturopathic doctor who specializes in nutrition and cholesterol and stay away from conventional doctors. Its your life, its your choice.

    Good luck, all the best.

    • David says

      DM,

      I stumbled upon this chat and really appreciate your comments. I have a calcium score of 1180. My doc put me on Crestor 2 years ago. I quit 2 weeks ago after reading “The Great Cholesterol Myth”. I’m making a lot of changes that even you mentioned. Do you think it is possible to reverse my arterial calcium? I thank you in advance!

      • DM says

        David, sorry to be replying just now, I just noticed your question. The answer is absolutely yes! you can reverse your arterial calcium. Its great that you got off of the poisonous statins. Please read this thread to understand real ways of improving cardiovascular health.

        For the calcium issues, there are many nutrition and lifestyle interventions. Sufficiency in D3, K2, and Magnesium is a first step. Stop taking calcium supplements if you are – or change to a plant based form. You can break up the calcium by using supplements like MSM, chanca piedra, gravel root, citric acid, and enzymes. I would strongly suggest getting a copy of David Wolfe’s “Longevity Now” book. The main theme of this book is to heal calcification. This book should give you all of the knowledge you need to completely reverse and heal your arterial calcium issues.

        Best!

  27. Sean says

    Thank you David and Glen. My cousing had her thyroid removed and my grandma takes medication for her thyroid. I had a thyroid panel done and apperently it’s fine, but will have another one done in a month to be sure I just saw a specialist today after seeing more doctors. He said he thinks it might be familial hypercholesterolima. He also is having both my parents come in for a cholesterol check before he puts me on Statin. I’m only 20 years old and reallllly reallllly do not want to take and prescription drugs. Help please :)

  28. Sean says

    So I’ve read numerous articles on cholesterol, but was looking for some help. I’ve had high cholesterol since I was 18 it was 267 with HDL 72 and LDL 183 now my doctor back then told me not to worry about it. I’ve gotten a new doctor since and he said it’s pretty high so he wanted to do a VAP panel. He called me the next week and said it’s extremely high and wanted to put me on Statin. I told him I really didn’t want to take any pills so he said I’ll give you 4 months then come back and take another test and we will probably put you on Statin. It’s been 3 months and I called and asked for the results from last time so I could maybe get some help from the online community. My VAP Panel my HDL was 81 and LDL is 217 and didn’t have the rest because his secretary read it. I’m currently 20 years old. I work out 4 times a week cardio and strength exercises. I’m 5’11 and 142 pounds. My Dad and his sister have high cholesterol, but not at my age. I eat healthy for the most part don’t really touch steak. My meals are generally the same. I eat a spoon of almond butter, maybe eggs or oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch is chicken with quinoa or yogurt with chia seeds and banana or apples. Dinner is salad and more chicken with hummus. I’m in great shape just freaking out about the cholesterol. My dad said if I don’t pass this test I have to go on Statin. Excuse the grammatical errors

  29. helen says

    Is this true for Familial hypercholesterolemia too? M cholesterol runs between 6.5 and 8 and as my lifestyle and diet is very healthy I have been told that I MUST go on statins and that hereditary and dietary high cholesterol are two very different kettles of fish.
    Helen

  30. leonore bosman says

    I have been useing 4S slimming pills now for 3 weeks. Just lost 3 kilos in the first week. I cant sleep at night and im irritated. My skin is in a horrible condition. Its now 3 days that i dont use it anymore. Im feeling sleepy the entire day and nervous and drunk in my head and like death warmed up. Still struggleing to sleep. Thats after i read that 4S doesnt have side effects! I havent felt this crap in years and im wondering what junk in this pills cause my symptoms. I will never use it again.

  31. Kare says

    It’s About time!!

    DIETARY SATURATED FAT HAS UNDESERVED BAD REPUTATION, SAYS REVIEW

    Rockville, MD – “The influence of dietary fats on serum cholesterol has been overstated,” concludes a review in an American Society for Nutrition publication that, in its words, “calls for a rational reevaluation of existing dietary recommendations that focus on minimizing dietary SFAs [saturated fatty acids], for which mechanisms for adverse health effects are lacking” [1].

    Indeed, argues the author, Dr Glen D Lawrence (Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY), it is likely other factors, such as oxidized polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) or preservatives in processed meats, that are also present in high-SFA foods that lead to adverse health effects typically associated with high SFA intake.

    “The meager effect that saturated fats have on serum cholesterol levels when modest but adequate amounts of polyunsaturated oils are included in the diet, and the lack of any clear evidence that saturated fats are promoting any of the conditions that can be attributed to PUFA, makes one wonder how saturated fats got such a bad reputation in the health literature,” Lawrence writes in the review published May 1, 2013 in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

    The article’s case is built on interpretations of research from the biochemistry, epidemiologic, and clinical literature but which, nonetheless, does not reference a tremendous body of research supporting alternative views. Still, Lawrence describes:

    The role of lipid peroxidation in promoting atherogenesis, arguing that its effects are more pronounced on PUFA than on SFAs or monosaturated fatty acids.
    An arguably protective effect of omega-3 PUFAs against proinflammatory effects of omega-6 and other PUFAs.
    Evidence that potentially carcinogenic preservatives in processed meats as well as high-heat cooking methods have influenced perceptions that red meat per se has adverse health effects.
    How “the preparation and cooking methods used for foods that are traditionally classified as saturated fat foods may be producing substances from PUFAs and carbohydrates in those foods that are promoting disease.”
    Studies suggesting positive health effects from dairy fat and tropical oils, both high in SFAs.
    The hazards of diets with increased carbohydrates as a result of being lower in fat, in low-fat diets followed to improve health, especially cardiovascular health.
    “The adverse health effects that have been associated with saturated fats in the past are most likely due to factors other than SFAs,” the article concludes. “Consequently, the dietary recommendations to restrict saturated fats in the diet should be revised to reflect differences in handling before consumption . . . It is time to reevaluate the dietary recommendations that focus on lowering serum cholesterol and to use a more holistic approach to dietary policy.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23674795?dopt=Abstract

  32. Bet says

    I don’t think there is any mystery as to why doctors prescribe statins. It’s the easy way out, even if it doesn’t reallly help. It lowers cholesterol. And that is what Doctors do, treat symptoms, not underlying causes. It’s the same with stomach issues. Just take Prilosec and you’ll be fine. To be fair, most people are not going to change their diets drastically as some of us have, to get better results. It’s a chicken/egg scenario.

    My husband is on statins and I’d like to get him off of it. He was headed towards diabetes, but with a modified Paleo diet (giving up most grains), his blood sugar is now normal. But I still worry about what the statins are doing to him. He travels for work a lot, so it’s hard for him to stay on a good healthy diet. And he loves to brag about how low his cholesterol is compared to mine.

    • Karen says

      I agree. It’s much easier to write a scrip than to take the time to explain the real causes of disease such as inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, etc. and prescribe a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. And truthfully there are too many people that are totally fine with just popping pills for whatever ails them without ever making any effort to modify their diet, increase their exercise, lose weight, and reduce stress. Too many doctors still erroneously buy into the cholesterol is bad myth and are only focused on getting the numbers into target range. Even for people at with CAD there are many holistic approaches that have few if any side effects. Statins do have some anti-inflammatory effects which can benefit people with CAD beyond the lipid lowering effects but so do many common herbs, spices, and nutritional supplements in addition to clean living.

      Travel makes it hard, especially outside the US, but not impossible. Most restaurants will make substitutions if asked, especially since it seems almost everyone is on some sort of restricted diet these days i.e., gluten free, low sodium, vegan, etc. We do it ALL the time! Also, your husband could request a fridge in his hotel room (hotels will upon request for diabetics to store insulin) then he could bring or buy food items such as fresh fruit and maybe have a healthy protein shake instead of the free continental breakfast of bagels and pastries offered at many hotels. Just a thought. Best of luck.

  33. says

    Hello Chris,

    This is a very informative article. My uncle is taking a Statin. I’m not sure if he’s informed about all these side effects. It’s scary.

  34. says

    Tell them GiGi!!! We spend so much time reading about healthy living instead of just figuring out what works best for us.All in all,great piece Chris!

  35. Zorba74 says

    Dear Chris

    I am not sure why you are referring to an outdated Cochrane review from 2011 regarding primary prevention using statins.(Ref No 7 in your article). The most recent Cochrane review on this was published in Jan 2013 ( See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23440795).

    It clearly concludes after reviewing several new trials: “Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were reduced in all trials but there was evidence of heterogeneity of effects. There was no evidence of any serious harm caused by statin prescription. Evidence available to date showed that primary prevention with statins is likely to be cost-effective and may improve patient quality of life. Recent findings from the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists study using individual patient data meta-analysis indicate that these benefits are similar in people at lower (< 1% per year) risk of a major cardiovascular event.Reductions in all-cause mortality, major vascular events and revascularisations were found with no excess of adverse events among people without evidence of CVD treated with statins."

    This runs contrary to what you are proposing-Maybe for the sake of objectivity you could edit your article to include the latest Cochrane review which DOES show that statins can be of use in primary prevention of heart disease

    Skeptical from UK

      • Zorba74 says

        I appreciate that you cant respond to every comment- but it would have been great if you explained why you haven’t referred to the most recent Cochrane review which I mentioned in my last post..

        Skeptical from UK

        • John C says

          Zorba, you really should read the latest analysis of the 2012-2013 Cochrane study:

          “Should people at low risk of cardiovascular disease take a statin?”

          BMJ 2013; 347 : f6123 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f6123 (Published 22 October 2013 )

          http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/download/StatinsshouldNOTbebroadedtowiderpopulation.pdf

          The bottom line:

          “Our calculations using data presented in the 2012 CTT patient level meta-analysis show that statin therapy prevents one serious cardiovascular event per 140 low risk people (five year risk <10%) treated for five years. Statin therapy in low risk people does not reduce all cause mortality or serious illness and has about an 18% risk of causing side effects that range from minor and reversible to serious and irreversible. Broadening the recommendations in cholesterol lowering guidelines to include statin therapy for low risk individuals will unnecessarily increase the incidence of adverse effects without providing overall health benefit."

  36. says

    It does seem to me that many doctors see that statins should be the first treatment for anything to do with heart disease. When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes I was prescribed statins along with metformin rather than the option of lifestyle and diet changes.

    • Karen says

      That’s truly unfortunate. Hopefully you’ve since taken matters into your own hands. Too many doctors skip the diet and lifestyle talk and simply go straight to the meds. Maybe it’s because very few people are actually willing to make the necessary changes and if that’s the case, it says a lot about us as a society. People seem to want a quick and easy fix without having to change anything. Just pop a pill and you’re good to go. That’s a big mistake.

  37. Colleen says

    Great article! This is just what I needed to send to some friends on family on the topic. Sadly, many I know would rather take a pill the doctor says is great than change their eating patterns.

  38. Karen says

    I’ve been following this series of articles particularly closely since last July at age 54 my husband had a NSTEMI and subsequent PTCA w/ stent placement (total of 4). He was discharged from the hospital on 80 mg. atorvastatin in addition to a beta blocker, clopidogrel, and aspirin therapy. He then went on a serious lifestyle transformation; now eats “real” foods (mostly paleo), exercises, lost 35 pounds, and is supplementing his diet appropriately. Prior to his heart attack his TC was 247, LDL 115 (calcluated), HDL 40, TG 347, so while certainly not great definitely not horrendous either. He also has mild/moderate hypertension and a family history of heart disease. With the aforementioned lifestyle changes and statin therapy, in a matter of 2.5 months his TC was reduced to 96, LDL 44 (calculated), HDL 36, and TG 80. We were really worried about that extremely low number. I felt it was dangerous and worried about the other health consequences, although his cardiologist was thrilled with that LDL number! He’s had to argue to get his statin dosage reduced several times and is now down to 20 mg. a day with a goal of eventually being able to go off it completely. His most recent lipid panel showed TC 115 (still too low), LDL 55, HDL 53, TG way down to 30! I understand that the literature indicates that he would benefit from being on a statin for the rest of his life (he’s been told he’ll have to take aspirin for the rest of his life). However, from what I’ve read, the benefit of statins for post MI – beyond the cholesterol numbers, which clearly aren’t a problem in his case – is from the anti-inflammatory affect that statins have and how that slows the progression or atherosclerosis. This seems to be why they are being considered as possible therapies for other diseases including prostate cancer, among others. He currently eats an anti-inflammatory, low carb, diet, with variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy oils and nuts, natural meats and no sugar or processed foods. He takes several supplements such as Ubiquinol, magnesium, fish oil, resveratrol, aged garlic, and B complex to name a few. We both hope that he can get off the atorvastatin completely. He’s currently off the beta blocker (too many serious side effects), but is now on an ARB for the hypertension and has a few more months to go with the clopidogrel (1 year after stenting). The sad thing is that his primary care doctor never really counselled him on lifestyle changes and instead just wanted to put him on meds (lovastatin). Prior to his heart attack he started taking RYR and his lipid panel improved a little but he didn’t make any lifestyle changes or effectively manage his stress. I think he would consider trying RYR again in lieu of statins, especially if there are possible other health benefits from using such a supplement. Do you know of any good studies that show that RYR has the same beneficial anti-inflammatory effects? Is there is a company/brand that you recommend for high quality, standardized formulation? Would be interested on your thoughts since he would likely benefit.

    • DM says

      I believe those cholesterol numbers are WAY too low and dangerous. There are actually many studies that show people with high cholesterol liver longer than those with low cholesterol. Not that high cholesterol is healthy, but many studies show it is healthier than low cholesterol. I can give you some references if you want.

      The idea that aspirin is somehow healthy and a good way to prevent a heart attack is insanity. It would be much better to thin the blood with healthy omega 3 oils (preferrably from wild caught fish or krill oil or fermented fish oil). Aspirin is a potent cox-1 inhibitor which damages epithelial cell structure. This leads to gut lining damage and to intestinal bleeding, which can be deadly. As a cox-1 inhibitor, aspirin also damages blood vessels by disrupting the epithelial cells that line the vessel walls and can lead to blindness for example because the vessels in the eyes become leaky leading to advanced wet age-related macular degeneration – leading to blindness. Taking aspirin daily to prevent a heart attack is utterly ridiculous and serves only to line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and deteriorate your health. Most doctors are just so ignorant it is the only thing they can offer. This article (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/06/17/is-low-dose-aspirin-causing-an-epidemic-of-intestinal-injury-and-bleeding.aspx) further explains why aspirin should not be used for heart attack prevention.

      Offering my non professional lay person’s opinion, nutrition and lifestyle changes are the answer. Find a good naturopathic doctor and stay away from conventional doctors unless it is an emergency. Here is list of the most important things for cardio health: ubiquinol, magnesium, silica, iodine, chromium, selenium, sodium/potassium balance, B vitamins, gut flora balance (i.e. fermented foods and probiotics), omega 3’s and balancing intake of omega 6 to omega 3 oils, optimal vitamin D levels (at least 50 ng/ml), optimal exercise (not too much, not too little), thyroid health (highly important), enzymes (e.g. nattokinase is excellent), antioxidants, botanical vitamin C (e.g. amla berry or camu camu berry), tocotrienols, support methylation, and dental hygiene. D-Ribose and Acetyl L Carnitine are also beneficial. Avoiding sugar and heated, damaged, rancid fats is also very important.

      Dr. David Brownstein has an excellent book on thyroid health and its importance for cardiovascular health – which does not seem to be widely known. Your husband may have subclinical thyroid problems that are at the “heart” of the problems.

      Herbs that are helpful: salvia root, aged garlic, rhodiola, and astragalus
      Fats that are helpful: virgin coconut oil, virgin olive oil.
      Foods that helpful: raw cacao, noni, and pomegranate and high arginine foods (make sure to balance with lysine)

      And the list can go on and on – in other words there is so much that nutrition has to offer and when used skillfully it will be much more effective and safer and healthier than drugs will ever be. It is so sad the only recourse 90+% of doctors have is a drug. When the body is sick it is not deficient in a drug as doctors seem to act like. Most drugs dont heal root causes, they suppress the warning system of the body by suppressing symptoms which is highly deceptive and misleading and destroying the lives of so many people.

      Good luck and best wishes!!

    • CHF42013 says

      Karen, I’m in a similar boat as your husband. I am 56 and recently suffered a near fatal MI. I have made many of the same changes (diet, supplements, etc) and feel pretty confident I can reverse the CHF, unclog my arteries (All three coronary arteries were completely blocked and they put three stents in one which saved my life) and get my ejection fracture back to normal range (at 30% right now). My focus right now is on detox (oral chelation), mind-body/biofeedback (HeartMath EmWave) and will be starting a cardiac rehab doing high intensity interval training which is far superior to what they prescribe in typical cardiac rehab exercise protocols. I’ve also discovered some promising new technologies that improve cardiovascular health as well such as the Zona Plus tool. So there is a lot of hope! It requires a lot of research, commitment, expert guidance if you can find it, and money! Eating all organic foods, high-quality oils, grass-fed meats and wild fish, etc certainly increases your food budget, along with all of the supplements and detox tools but the cost is nothing compared to what prescription drugs and medical care costs. My hospital bill was close to $200K. Best of luck to you both.

  39. Dean Brunkhardt says

    Chris:

    It’s been about 20 years since our paths last crossed…

    Regarding the side effects of statins, in the studies you’ve read, is tiredness during the daytime one of them? What causes tiredness when taking a statin?

    Keep up the great work.

    Dean

  40. David Nelsen says

    Chris, I remember watching a Video by Dr. Dall and I believe she used statins in some cases, but it was to primarily drive down LDL-P. Are there classes of statins that can modulate LDL-P? This would seem to be a good use if there are not too many side effects or other treatment options. Thanks, Dave

  41. Mark says

    What if you never have had heart issues, yet have Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis? Age 62 – LDL of 119 , HDL 60, TG – 79, TC 197. my GP and endo doc want me on a light dosage statin. Doing Paleo – hba1c coming down all the time – down to 5.8 at the moment. On Enbrel and small dose methotrexate – no diabetes drugs. CRP of .03, C-Peptide of 1.4.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I don’t understand the logic behind a statin in this case. Your TC is below the cutoff, your TGs are good (though they could be better) and your LDL is only very slightly elevated. Your CRP is excellent and your A1c is improving. I’m not sure why a statin would be indicated here, but this is of course a decision you need to make with your doctor.

      • Mark says

        What’s interesting is that my TG used to be around 49, and my TC around 160 and my HDL around 35. Could eating paleo (and eating lots of fats like coconut,avocado,macadamia nuts) be raising some of those numbers?

        Thanks for your input Chris!

      • Savanna says

        Chris,
        The diabetes guidelines recommend an LDL of <100 and 40 which has shown to have benefits in reducing risk of CVD (statins have data on increasing HDL). The trials supporting these numbers are referenced in the guidelines. I believe this is where the recommendation stemmed from. I would not argue with recommendation if the patient has failed LSM in the past.

  42. says

    Clarification: Second sentence in the last paragraph of the secondary prevention of Statins reads, “Statins do reduce the risk of heart attack and other CVD events in men over the age of 80,…”

    Shouldn’t it read, “Statins do not reduce….”?

  43. David says

    Hi Chris,

    I noticed that you have Choleast in your web store, and I wonder what your thoughts are on the appropriate use of red yeast rice (RYR). I know all about the RYR controversies regarding safety and efficacy (monacolin content, citrinin, etc.), so that’s not really where my question is coming from. But assuming that you have a good product (Choleast and others have been shown to have significant amounts of monacolins and insignificant citrinin levels), at what point would you use the RYR as an intervention?

    There have been quite a few RYR studies showing benefit, and some (e.g. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18549841) even claim to significantly reduce all-cause mortality. Several of the RYR researchers surmise that the other components in RYR (other monacolins and phytochemicals besides the monacolin K) are working together synergistically to reduce risk in a way that isolated monacolin K cannot do, even though the actual LDL number is not reduced as much compared to a statin drug.

    What do you think?

    • Chris Kresser says

      I reviewed pretty much every study on RYR I could find prior to writing the High Cholesterol Action Plan. My conclusion was similar to yours: that it can be effective when the right brand is used (that contains negligible citrinin levels and consistent levels of monacolins), and that the side effects are typically less than full-dose statins (which makes sense, because RYR is essentially equivalent to taking a low-dose statin).

      RYR may make sense for people that are otherwise candidates for statin therapy, but would like to try a lower-dose, more “holistic” alternative. Some studies have shown that RYR in conjunction with other therapies (e.g. tocotrienols, pantethine, etc.) have a similar effect to full-dose statins.

  44. Tara says

    What is your response to the notion that cholesterol is produced to repair endothelial damage caused by inflammation caused by poor diet? Some are of the opinion that without inflammation LDL particles would flow freely through blood vessels without causing damage and that when they do become lodged in the endothelium it is the body’s attempt to heal. I understand you saying this is more of a random gradient driven process rather than LDL particles specifically “patching” inflamed areas. Am I understanding you correctly? Are these two views at odds or do they work together?

    • Chris Kresser says

      At least a couple of studies have shown that LDL-P is still a risk factor even when oxidized LDL levels are normal. This would suggest that a high LDL-P number even without oxidation/inflammation may be problematic.

      That said, there’s little doubt (in my mind, at least) that inflammation plus high LDL-P is worse than high LDL-P alone. And ox-LDL is only one marker of oxidation/inflammation. It’s possible that those with normal ox-LDL in the studies above were inflamed, but it wasn’t showing up in the ox-LDL marker.

    • L. Lee says

      Linus Pauling had the idea that Vitamin C deficiency caused unhealthy arteries and cholesterol was the body’s temporary fix, thus giving your body the vitamins it needs will be the permanent ‘fix’.

  45. Sage says

    Chris, thanks for following these issues and enlightening enlightening us. Coukd you please answera stupid question? How do these studies know that a statin prevented a heart attack or stroke?

    • Chris Kresser says

      A randomized trial separates participants into two groups. One group receives statins, the other receives a placebo. They follow the groups for a while and record cardiovascular events in each group. If the statin group has fewer events (like heart attack), and other factors that could have influenced the outcome were adequately controlled for, then the assumption is that the statin reduced the incidence of the event.

  46. Marci says

    I was wondering if hyper-responders to saturated fat and folks with heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia might be exceptions to statin’s general like of efficacy? I have 2835 LDL particles on a Paleo diet and am now resuming a low fat regimen to see if that helps. Thank you for your commitment to both outstanding research and communication! I believe you are a life saver.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I usually put my patients with FH on what I call a “Mediterranean Paleo” diet. i.e. Paleo with a higher intake of carbs and lower intake of saturated fat. It is generally effective in reducing LDL-P.

      • Maguerite says

        Hi Doc, I have it full on! Without meds my family has numbers of 12 and 13. I embarked on ketogenic diet in 2012 and astounded my doctors. It came down to 6 (total cholesterol). Lowest since birth. None in my family can tolerate statins (we WILL die of kidney failure and quickly too). I can’t get my sons to go onto keto dieting but for me I feel it’s the saturated fat, eggs, coconut oil etc, which brought it down. I feel our ilk have been done in when it comes to research. We’re given a pack of statins and a shrug by the cardiologist. No-one has looked deeply into our plight. I wish I knew how to start a fund and get some scientists on board to really study it. My son, at 34, over this Christmas got QUINTUPLE bypass surgery. My heart is solidly broken by this, yet the females live to over 80. He too cannot use statins for even 2 days. NONE of the statins. I feel a little angry too and helpless.

      • says

        I would appreciate some guidelines for that. Took your whole High Cholesterol Action Plan, expecting to get them. 90% sure I have FH. One more test to get back. I know increasing safe starches and reducing saturated fat and cholesterol are key (my cholesterol was kept in check as a vegetarian but shot through the roof on paleo). I need numbers. 1 egg/day or 3eggs per week? How often is red meat OK? 2x per week or month? Eliminate raw dairy completely? Really baffled about the specifics. BTW my LDL-c is 2541! I appreciate all the info I did get and the other specifics but thought that section could be be detailed.

  47. Scott Hamilton says

    What about persons under 80 who had a heart attack (say > 10 years ago) but:
    have a good blood lipid profile
    are in good shape physically (stress EKG results excellent)
    have no significant atherosclerosis (sonogram)

    Is the prior heart attack the only decision criterium?

    • Chris Kresser says

      No. There is rarely (if ever) a single criterium that guides a treatment decision, especially with a condition as complex and multifactorial as CVD. I think it would depend on what this person’s diet and lifestyle was leading up to the heart attack, as well as their willingness to make other lifestyle changes (like stress management) that may have a more significant impact on risk reduction than taking a statin.

  48. says

    Instead of relative or absolute risk these studies should have to use some kind of expected life extension amount. What I mean is that no medical treatment can prevent death, only delay it. I think this would give a more easy to understand benefit. Malcolm Kendrick has used something like it in his books. If 100 people have a heart attack in 5 years on placebo they should see how long it takes for 100 people to have a heart attack in the statin group. From this you could calculate the expected life extension in the experimental group. I don’t remember the exact numbers but I think in Kendricks book his calculations were that in some cases a 30% reduction in relative risk only worked out to an average of 60 days or so expected life extension in the statin group. Then the question becomes would you risk all the side effects to extend your life for 60 days?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Yes, that’s another way of looking at it—especially because statins don’t prevent death. At best, they only delay it. So from this perspective, the real meaning of 1 in 200 lives will be saved is that if one man at high risk of heart disease took a statin for one year, he would expect to gain an additional two days of life. So if we put this another way, if a 50-year-old male at very high risk of heart disease took statins for 30 years, he could expect to live an additional two months on average.

      Rather sobering, isn’t it?

  49. DM says

    In my opinion, there are no groups of people who should be taking statins – and I am surprised you are advising certain groups to take statins because they may be “likely to benefit”. Where do favorable studies on statins come from? I believe they are essentially all funded by those who financially gain from positive outcomes, e.g. big pharma. This conflict of interest immediately calls into question the real validity of these studies. I believe it is not clear at all that “statins reduce heart disease as well as the risk of death in those that have already had a heart attack” as you say or as these “studies” say. Here is why…

    Statins work by suppressing an enzyme in the liver that interferes with cholesterol production. However, this enzyme, HMG Coenzyme-A reductase, is not only needed for cholesterol production, it is also needed for several other fundamental biological processes, including production of one of the most essential nutrients that the body needs, which is Coenzyme Q10, an incredibly important nutrient especially for cell energy and heart health. HMG Coenzyme-A reductase is also needed for producing selenoproteins that are the backbone antioxidant system of defense for every cell in the human body, required for healthy immune function, and primary activators of thyroid hormone. The cholesterol pathway that HMG Coenzyme-A reductase is needed for is also linked to the production of vitamin D, adrenal hormones, and sex hormones. It also makes many gene-signaling molecules in the isoprenoid family that are required for healthy cell function and the prevention of cellular mutation (cancer). All of these processes are indiscriminately interfered with by statins, which is potentially devastating to human health. The risks can increase along with the dosage.

    So, statins deplete CoQ10 and thus cause cardiovascular problems (the very condition they are supposed to be helping). They cause fat to be dumped all over the body in places it should not be. Statin use is also associated with copper, zinc, vitamin E and severe selenium depletion. Statins have been linked to intense and debilitating muscle pain, kidney failure, liver dysfunction, and cataracts. Some people have reported severe memory loss (as cholesterol is very important for brain function). Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency even warned recently that some statin users suffer from sexual problems, sleep loss, and depression. There is also clear evidence that statins cause high blood sugar, which is sometimes mistaken for type 2 diabetes. Statins are also associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, a recent study (http://www.wellnessresources.com/studies/statins_increase_risk_of_type_2_diabetes) shows that post-menopausal women who consistently take their statins, as their doctors so happily instruct them to do, have a massive 71% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sadly, type 2 diabetes is almost always a sign of insulin and/or leptin resistance, which can also cause high cholesterol – implying statins can make the underlying cause of high cholesterol even worse. This implies statin drugs which are meant to lower heart disease risk, can actually massively increase heart disease risk. In fact, statins have been found (http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/statin-drugs-found-accelerate-arterial-calcification) to accelerate arterial calcification further harming cardiovascular health. Forcefully lowering cholesterol can also cause major hormonal imbalances (cholesterol is a precursor to ALL sex hormones) which then causes a long list of health problems.

    Furthermore, one main reason cells make cholesterol is to repair themselves. This is especially important for nerve cells, which do not split and divide like other cells in the body and therefore must repair themselves in order to survive. The receptors on nerve cells enable them to receive neurotransmitters, thereby enabling a person to have cognitive function and memory. These nerve cell receptors require cholesterol as part of their proper three-dimensional structure. Statins interfere with this process as an undesirable side effect, inducing slow and progressive memory loss the longer they are used – a form of slow poisoning of your brain. If asked about memory loss after being on statins for a few years doctors will just blow it off as aging. Most doctors do not understand what they are doing to people.

    Nutrition and lifestyle changes are ALWAYS better than statins. Statins do NOT EVER address root causes, they mislead a person into thinking they are ok because of a better number, but in reality the underlying cause is never addressed and sometimes made worse — very very deceptive as are most drugs.

    I really wish chris that you would have taken a much harsher stance against statins than what is written in this article, but at least you are somewhat negative about them and I know you cant please everyone :). I just hope people aren’t misled into taking statins. I believe within a few more years statins will be off of the market and no longer sold once it is realized the catastrophic damage they are doing to people – just my opinion.

    • says

      I would have to agree with this. For me, when I hear the word statin, it’s like I see in front of me a killer of coQ10. I consider Ubiquinol to be in the top-3 supplements today, and possibly the no1 key to the road to optimal (even if still eating a fish-rich paleo diet and supplementing with D3 and magnesium).

      • Narendra Kulkarni says

        Thanks for helping me makeup my mind. I am quitting stations after 7 years of daily dose in which I acquired diabetes, cataract and a heart attack. It never brought my cholesterol levels down. 40 days ago had an angioplasty then researched and found out about vegan diet, saw forks over knives and now in 35 days total cholesterol is 150 and LDL is 69.

    • zooma57 says

      I would suggest you do a better job at researching this issue. There are some very good reasons why certain individuals with existing conditions like congestive heart failure and advanced coronary disease should be taking a low does statin, and the reason is NOT to lower cholesterol. Stephen Sinatra, MD, James C. Robets, MD along with other pioneering integrative cardiologists have proven protocols and very wise recommendations on when low dose statin therapy is important. I thought I would never take a statin and after suffering a near fatal MI followed by congestive heart failure I am following their protocol which also includes coQ10, Carnitine, Arginine, Taurine, Omega three, D3, magnesium, and many other vitamins, minerals and herbs. I also have radically changed my diet and lifestyle, and now after 3 weeks from being discharged, after a week in the hospital, I feel like a totally different human being. I could barely walk for 2 minutes the first day I was home and now I can comfortably walk for 60 minutes and that’s with an ejection fracture of 30%. So, I am very optimistic about the future and what is possible in terms of reversing this condition and for now I plan to maintain my low dose statin, along with the other conventional heart medications but to continue optimizing my diet and lifestyle. Once I see the regression of the plaque taking place and feel like I have successfully addressed the underlying pathology I will eventually stop taking those drugs. But for now I believe it is the best thing to do. So please do your homework before making such sweeping statements. I have no love for drug companies. Having worked with them for over 20 years in the field of clinical research I have very intimate knowledge of how research data is manipulated and turned into propaganda for profit hungry corporations. I urge you to check out the authors I mentioned to gain a more informed perspective on this issue.

      • DM says

        Tom, Dr. Sinatra believes some people should take statins because they are “anti inflammatory and reduce blood clotting potential” and not for lowering cholesterol (you’re right). I do respect Dr. Sinatra and believe he is more responsible than most doctors especially giving his patients CoQ10. I have actually followed his work for the past couple of years. However, I also believe he does not know everything and that he has to deal with a lot of patients who aren’t willing to make the sweeping changes that you have made. I certainly believe SHORT TERM LOW DOSE statin use is appropriate in some acute cases, but that is rare. I believe hi dose long term use is never appropriate and causes too much damage and that there are always better ways to deal with cardiovascular problems with skilled application of nutrition and lifestyle changes.

        I am very glad to hear how you are recovering, but I doubt statins have very much to do with it at all – again that is just my opinion. Statins dont address root causes, though they are certainly better than nothing in some cases. I think if Dr. Sinatra had a patient like you who was willing to totally change diet and lifestyle, he would rarely prescribe statins even in advanced cases. Problem is most people arent willing to do that so he probably feels the need to prescribe low dose statins as well.

        My main point in posting here is that statins cause a lot of problems especially in higher doses and long term use that Chris did not bring up and there are almost always much more effective, safer, healthier ways to prevent and heal cardiovascular disease – but most people are not willing to make the changes. In all of the reading and research I have done (extensive) I believe this to be true. I believe there are much better ways to reduce inflammation than taking statins – but again many are not willing to make those changes.

        I also wanted to suggest to you to make sure your thyroid is healthy – might want to read Dr. David Brownstein’s book on the thyroid and its connection with cardiovascular disease. Most doctors dont know how to test for subclinical thyroid problems – so reading this book is highly suggested. Also, dont forget your fermented foods and probiotics and gut flora balance – so very important for every aspect of health. I assume you are also reducing omega 6 intake and avoiding hydrogenated, heated, rancid fats and sugar – huge for reducing inflammation.

        I am also very hopeful for you that you can completely reverse this condition, but it is my opinion that it will have nothing to do the use of statins. It will be your diet and lifestyle and supplement changes that will do it.

        Best wishes!!

      • DM says

        Tom, I wanted to give you this interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hbNSHPco0g. In this interview she explains very in depth precisely why NO ONE should be taking statins not even those with hypercholesterolemia. She explain why statins are actually very bad for the heart and cause widespread catastrophic damage. I think Dr. Sinatra and any doctor who is prescribing statins is completely wrong and he is harming his patients. Statins are poison – no one should be taking them.

        Chris you would also do well to listen to this interview – Dr. Seneff spends her life in the published literature and knows it very well. I really dont think you understand the damage that statins are causing people and this interview will explain it to you.

        It is still my very strong belief that within a few years statins will be banned because of their widespread catastrophic damage which is slowly coming out and will eventually be made known to the public. The pharmaceutical companies are fighting hard to keep this information suppressed because statins make them billions of dollars. We must all realize big pharma companies absolutely have no interested in human health, they are only interested in stock prices and profits and in fact the sicker that people become the richer they become – which is a very perverse inverse relationship.

        • zooma57 says

          DM, I have followed Dr. Seneff’s work with great interest and consider her to be a brilliant scientist. Thank you for the reference.

    • David says

      DM, thank you for your reply! I have stopped taking Crestor, Ramipril, Metoprolal, baby aspirin, and Effient. I am listening to your counsel, as well as a local ND i met with last week. I have read, “The Great Cholesterol Myth” which has helped me a lot as well.

      Fox News just came out with an article on sugar and heart disease TODAY!

      http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/04/excess-sugar-consumption-from-soda-desserts-leads-to-higher-rates-of-cardiovascular-death/

      And yet, they also came out with an article on new cholesterol guidelines!

      http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/03/new-cholesterol-guidelines-how-to-make-sense-them/?intcmp=trending

      So confusing. But I’m not anymore! Please stay in touch if possible. I greatly appreciate your incite on this life and death subject.

      Dave

      • Tim says

        I am pissed at my cardiologist. I had myocarditis( inflammation of that heart) he out me on Lipitor for preventative but never mentioned it would make me diabetic. My blood sugars were near the max before but once I took the statin, I’m positive it raised once I stopped then. Also my cholesterol is high but that they never once explained in detail small sense particle LDL. They never suggested Coq10 either. It pisses me off that they simply pull out a pad and write a prescription.

    • andrea says

      wow, this is great info. i am 51, peri menopausal, and have cardio vascular health that nearly freaked my cardiologist out in a good way (took him a while to get my heart rate high on the treadmill in a stress test) — i run, bike, and eat very clean.

      about a month ago, chest pains started, as did other symptoms that suggested i was presenting MI precursors. of course, my research led me to discover that these symptoms could be GERD or good old fashioned menopause.

      part of my cardiologist’s screening was an ultra sound of my carotid arteries. it showed less than 20% blockage of plaque, but not spots, some significant buildup. he suggested a low dose of Liptor. i have not filled the prescription yet. i was sold when i left his office, but i have to admit this is a tough drug (i am on no other meds – maybe an advil every month) and i am frightened that the risks will outweigh the benefits.

      my HDL is extremely high, the LDL is “high” but my ratio is amazing. blood pressure consistently normal, pulse 56 BPM. again, stellar cardio health for an “old lady” —

      thanks in advance for any advice —

      any advice?

        • andrea says

          Mark, I think it’s peri menopause. There are certain foods that trigger its symptoms. One is wine (NO DONT TAKE MY WINE) others are certain spices, coffee, etc. Cardiologist says even the current 20% blockage would not make me have chest pains.

          I am still conflicted about taking the Lipitor. ugh.

          • Mark says

            Andrea, I know this blog is opposed to statin use but I’ve been on Lipitor for 15 years and got my cholesterol numbers in good shape, whereas they were not good before taking it. You have to supplement with Co-enzyme Q-10, or you may have problems with muscle cramping and pain as a side effect. A couple women I know had that problem with it and I doubt they were taking the CoQ10.

            I don’t know what it may be doing to my body in a negative manner. Only time will tell. My doctor wants me to stay on it though. I have developed cataracts which I understand are a possible side effect. However, I also have a family history of cataracts. So I cannot say for certain the Lipitor was the cause.

            • andrea says

              Hi Mark — i am so glad your numbers are better and that you are handling the Lipitor, as far as you know, very well. this is very good news.

              the thing is? my numbers are great. it’s the plaque that my doc wants to “try to” stop or “try to” lessen. less than 20% may be worth holding off on Lipitor for 12-18 months and then getting another ultra sound to see if there is an increase that is substantial enough to worry about.

              • Mark says

                Hi Andrea,
                Was the 20% blockage in your carotid arteries in your neck or the coronary arteries in your heart. I’m not a doctor but if the coronary arteries are blocked significantly that can cause a heart attack. If the carotid arteries are blocked, that could lead to a stroke. Not sure if holding off for just 12-18 months would show any change. Ask your doctor about it for sure, but it could take years for an increase in plaque to show up on an ultrasound.

                I had a CT scan of my coronary arteries around my heart (also know as a Calcium Score) done to check for blockages in those arteries. When the results came back, they gave a risk factor number of having a coronary event with the next 3 years. So I’m just guessing from that, maintaining your current lifestyle, no significant increase in plaque build up would show up for at least 3 years.

                Check with your doctor on this for sure.

                • andrea says

                  Mark — the carotid ultra sounds were my neck area left and right. it was “less than 20%” he said. and he said while there was still a sufficient and healthy blood flow, he suggested, but left it up to me on the statins.

                  now, when you say an increase would not show up — do you mean that plaque could be greater than what it is now but not show up? or do you mean that there is little likelihood that more will accumulate over 18 months?

                  thanks, andrea

  50. Kevin Skroch says

    My doctor started me me on Gemfibrozil and Zocor when I was about 40, by 50 I was about disabled with multiple issues including memory issues, chronic muscle and joint pain. The first thing I did when I started my recovery was to stop taking my prescriptions ( all 7 of them) Went through a medically supervised VLCD, a hip surgery was down about 90 pounds and felt awful. Started listing to Dr Kresser’s Podcast a year ago, started low-carb Paleo about 9 months ago feel better than I have in years. My new doctor is still concerned that my LDL is high, but I’ve told her I will not go back on the meds.

  51. Leslie Manookian says

    Hi Chris,
    I am guessing you are just trying to be objective by stating that statins do reduce risk of CVD and CVD related events in groups that already have CVD when the average relative risk reduction is only an almost farcical 3%. I can’t even imagine that is statistically significant it is so minuscule. To think of it another way. What business would survive if it provided a service that showed no benefit at all for 96% of customers? This is before even taking into account the downside from these drugs which is surely understated because of lack of reporting of adverse reactions (as you note) as well as a relatively short history of using these drugs (a decade or two). Thoughts?

    • Scott says

      Statistical significance is very often misunderstood, even by those whose educational credentials are quite considerable. Significance only means that the probability of observing a particular result due only to random variation is less than 5% if the null hypothesis is true. “Significant” to most reasonable people means “big” or “noticeable.” So even a miniscule difference can be statisitically significant if a sample size is really big and the variance is very small (or some combination of the two). That said, the point you made is very well-taken. Even if statins very reliably reduce someone’s risk of cardiac event by a miniscule amount, that benefit cannot be evaluated without reference to the risks, which to me seem more “significant” than the benefits.

  52. charles grashow says

    Chris

    What is your opinion on this

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/health/seeking-clues-to-a-heart-killer-in-the-dna-binding-a-family.html?hp&_r=0&pagewanted=all

    “I had bought the dream: if you just do the right things and eat the right things, you will be O.K.,” said Mr. Del Sontro, whose cholesterol and blood pressure are reassuringly low.

    But after his sister, just 47 years old, found out she had advanced heart disease, Mr. Del Sontro, then 43, and the president of Zippy Shell, a self-storage company, went to a cardiologist.

    An X-ray of his arteries revealed the truth. Like his grandfather, his mother, his four brothers and two sisters, he had heart disease. (One brother, Michael, has not received a diagnosis of the disease.)

    Now he and his extended family have joined an extraordinary federal research project that is using genetic sequencing to find factors that increase the risk of heart disease beyond the usual suspects — high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.

    The aim is to see if genetics can explain why heart disease strikes apparently healthy people. The hope is that a family like Mr. Del Sontro’s could be a Rosetta stone for heart disease — that their arteries’ profound but mysterious propensity to clog could reveal forces that do the same in millions of others.

    “We don’t know yet how many pathways there are to heart disease,” said Dr. Leslie Biesecker, who directs the study Mr. Del Sontro joined. “That’s the power of genetics. To try and dissect that.”

    Researchers have long known that a family history of early death from heart disease doubles a person’s risk independently of any other factors. Family history is defined as having a father or a brother who were given a diagnosis of heart disease before age 55 or a mother or sister before age 65.

    Scientists are studying the genetic makeup of each member of the Del Sontro family, searching for telltale mutations or aberrations in the long sequence of three billion chemicals that make up human DNA.

    Until very recently, such a project almost certainly would have been futile. Picking through DNA for tiny aberrations was so costly and time-consuming that it was impractical to take on for an entire family.

    Analyzing the deluge of data would have been overwhelming. But costs have plunged, and data analysis has advanced.

    “With the right family, you may need only one family,” said Dr. Robert C. Green of Harvard Medical School who studies genetics and medicine and is not involved in the study.

    Beyond Risk Factors

    Control of cardiovascular disease is one of medicine’s great success stories. Over the past 45 years, heart disease death rates have steadily dropped 60 percent from their peak in the 1960s.

    But doctors still rely mostly on risk factors discovered decades ago — cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

    “Risk factors are part of the canon now in medicine,” said Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, the director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “We use them every day. Still, people arrive at the hospital every day with heart attacks.”

    Does this mean that if you come from a family with long life spans and no heart disease that there should be nothing to worry about?

    • Honora says

      ‘Does this mean that if you come from a family with long life spans and no heart disease that there should be nothing to worry about?’

      My brother (and I) did but he embarked on a lifestyle that included: working 100 hour weeks running a business that was hemorrhaging money, snatching takeaways (refried PUFA’s) and smoking – with the result that at the age of 50 he got 3 blocked coronary arteries that he’s now had stented. So now he’s on statins, niacin and other stuff. There was no history in either side of our families of heart issues apart from our maternal grandfather contracting rheumatic heart disease after scarlet fever as a teenager. His children lived into their late 80’s and early 90’s aside from our mother who smoked for 64 years and passed away at the age of 82 from emphysema.

    • Maguerite says

      High carbs… is my opinion. I have a worse dna. My sons have it too. My mother is 83 AND she smoked. Only found out when she was in her 60’s. Can’t do statins. I got her to cut just a little carbs (I feel she’s too old to go into ketosis, but what do I know) and even cutting about half her normal carb intake, her cholesterol came down to 5.1. No doctor system wants to look at this. I think I’m the only person with FH who opted for this diet (in the world). Couldn’t find another anywhere and it worked for me. I wish a bevy of scientists (lipid people) would come to South Africa to see how many r here and do some research on us. Our sons are in great peril. But they must come without the pre-notion that lowfat and statins is the answer. it is SO not! Dr. Kresser, I am so sorry for my brashness, but I am hysterical about my sons in whom this “thing” is quite deadly.

  53. says

    Heads up: your section headings are mixed up. The first says “Secondary prevention (those with pre-existing heart disease)” and the second says “Primary prevention (those without pre-existing heart disease)”.

      • says

        I think it’s the paragraph before the headings where there’s a typo:

        “With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the efficacy of statins in two broad groups of people: those with pre-existing heart disease, and those without pre-existing heart disease. In the medical literature, these groups are referred to as “primary prevention” and “secondary prevention”, respectively.”

        Looks like “primary prevention” and “secondary prevention” just need to be switched.

        Great article, by the way!

          • Herm Payen says

            Please understand that primary prevention means “when you do not have the disease yet” whereas secondary means after ‘you have developed the disease”.

  54. says

    Brilliant. Chris, I am so glad you can manage to do all this work and make it “consumable”.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if they find a way to start marketing this stuff to kids the way they have with Ranitidine.

Join the Conversation

Current ye@r *