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Cholesterol

I recently gave a presentation to my patients about blood pressure and cholesterol myths. It is unfortunate that many primary care doctors mainly focus on treating cholesterol as a way to prevent heart attacks. The truth is heart attacks are still a leading cause of death because the majority of the time the underlying cause is never being addressed.

Statins are the number one selling class of drugs in the nation. We all know these drugs lower cholesterol, however, the studies don't show that it is reducing the number of heart attacks. Researchers followed 114 patients with heart problems who began taking Cholesterol lowering drugs. They found that every point of decrease of the serum Cholesterol, there was a 36% increased risk of death! In addition, many of the researchers reporting the results happen to be on the payroll of these drug companies.

Drugs don't treat the cause of chronic illness. You have to remember the drug companies are in the business of disease maintenance and symptom management. If they wanted to cure anything, they would put theirselves out of business.

The more important question we must ask is, why is your cholesterol high or at the level it is? What is it compensating for? Cholesterol is required to manufacture hormones, bil acids, and vitamin D. You can't make estrogen, testosterone, thyroid hormones, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.

Statin drugs work by inhibiting a vital enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) that manufactures cholesterol in the liver. This enzyme also stops the production of CoQ10. This means if your on a statin, you must be supplementing with CoQ10.

Some of my tips would be: First get the right cholesterol testing done. Have your doctor order you the VAP cholesterol test or the NMR LipoProfile from Labcorp. These tests are performed like other blood lipid tests, but they go way beyond the four standard lipid tests.

Lipoproteins are not discrete homogenous molecules but are composed of a mixture of particles that vary in size and density. Each particle or lipoprotein subclass has a unique role in increasing or decreasing the risk of heart disease. A regular cholesterol test won't tell you this. Note: the standard LDL result is a mathematical calculation and not a direct measurement. Individual lipoprotein tests have been around for years but has been underutilized due to cost and availability of the test. You definitely want to know if you have safe or artery damaging cholesterol particles.

Second, eat a healthy diet. You don't have to go crazy with the organic stuff, but you should with any meats (grass fed).

Choose heart healthy supplements. A quality multivitamin, 2-3g of fish oil a day, and 2000 IU of vitamin D as maintenance dose (make sure you get your levels checked first). In my experience I have found most of my patients to be deficient, so I would recommend 10,000 IU daily for 3 months and then retest. CoQ10 is another supplement to consider, but a must for patients on a statin.

Finally, exercise. This isn't optional. If you are doing cardio I would recommend doing interval training raising your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 30 seconds, and then you recover for 90 seconds. You would repeat this cycle eight more times for a total of 20 minutes. It has been my personal experience that using this approach is far more effective than traditional cardio exercises.

I would like to hear from you. Do you take statins? Have you experienced muscle pain or any other effects? Leave a comment below. Thanks.

References
Clark AL and others. J Am Coll Cardiol 2003;42:1933-1943.