Statin debate

The Statin Debate:

Should we really have statins in our drinking water? Do we always need a pill for prevention of heart attacks? Are you taking a statin?
Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs used to treat LDL cholesterol.
There was a good debate in the Wall Street Journal today. One doctor was for statins in preventing heart attacks (Dr Roger Blumenthal, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, Baltimore, MD) and the other doctor was for lifestyle intervention (Dr Rita Redberg, University of California, San Francisco).

Here are my thoughts. Although I am not a doctor I have been involved in this field for over a decade and I personally get to spend lots of time with the patients actually taking the drugs.

From a secondary prevention perspective (after a heart attack) the research is evident that taking a statin is beneficial. However, I have seen many patients get off their statins due to aggressive risk factor control through diet, exercise and stress control. I have also seen a fair number of patients get off their statins due to side effects. (if you have not done so do visit our blog on statins and Co Q10

From a primary prevention standpoint (before a heart attack) I feel that you can stop a heart attack from ever happening by focusing on your risk factors to heart disease. But taking pills for prevention? I am kind of against this as I know there is a lot more than you can do than take a pill. I do have a big but! If you know that you are at increased risk from a blood test (HS CRP), Carotid Intima Media Thickness, or Calcium score. Then it may be a good start to be on a statin however, do understand that you can get off of this. Someone who has no diagnosed heart disease and has a blood test with a high LDL in my opinion is not a reason for an automatic statin prescription. Take a look at some other blood tests (what type of LDL, Hs CRP) and other inflammatory markers and then have a good conversation with your healthcare team.

There are side effects to taking statins and it does involve liver and muscular concerns. If the drug was side effect free then I may change my thoughts, but the fact is that it is not. Weigh the pros or cons of taking a statin with your healthcare team. Do understand that heart disease (coronary artery disease) is an inflammatory disease so you can reverse this by focusing on anti-inflammatory sources (healthy nutrition, exercise and stress management).

To your success,

Diamond Fernandes

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