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Statin Myths and Real Heart Attack Prevention

Man eating an apple
September 9, 2014 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

Big Pharma wants you to take statins. Actually, they’d like all older adults to take these controversial, cholesterol-lowering drugs — whether or not they need them!

And the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology both agree.  Which makes me wonder, what is wrong with these people?

According to new guidelines, age is the issue, not your heart health. So if you’re in your 60s or 70s — even if your cholesterol and triglycerides are fine and you have no signs of heart disease — don’t be surprised if your doctor recommends statins.

The new guidelines apply to white males over the age of 63, white females 71 or older, African American men age 66 or more, or African American women over the age of 70.

Apparently, people in these age groups have a “statin deficiency” that can only be remedied with expensive pharmaceuticals.

Here’s my advice — just say “No!”

Understand I am not against all drugs. But I am opposed to giving patients unnecessary, dangerous medications. And for most people, that’s what statins are. Let’s look at some of the myths surrounding these drugs and set the record straight.

Myth #1: Statins are lifesavers that lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Statins can reduce LDL cholesterol. But that service comes with a pretty steep price tag.

For example, the warning label on statins was upgraded earlier this year to include a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels.

Do not take that risk lightly. Diabetes is a very serious condition that affects your entire body, including your brain. Elevated blood sugar is dangerous, too. It damages your arteries, leads to insulin resistance, and causes difficulties with weight management.

But here’s the thing that will blow your mind. Ironically, both diabetes and high blood sugar are connected to an increased risk of heart disease.

In other words, statins, which are supposed to protect you from a heart attack, actually increase that risk, particularly in women and young people.

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Myth #2: The benefits of statins outweigh the side effects.

No, actually, they don’t. I’ve seen plenty of studies showing that statins cause serious side effects that can be nothing short of disastrous, including:

  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Triple the risk of calcification of arteries, making heart disease more dangerous
  • Depletion of essential nutrients, including heart-friendly Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Muscle pain that can escalate to a potentially lethal condition known as rhabdomyolysis
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Cataracts
  • Serious memory problems, including transient global amnesia (TGA), a condition that can eliminate nearly all memory and sometimes lasts for days

Myth #3: Statins reduce deadly inflammation, so they help keep you healthy.

Lowering inflammation, which is believed to be the root cause of all illness — including heart disease — does benefit your health, but statins are not the way to do it.

Neither are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and aspirin. Even though they’re sold over-the-counter, those bad boys have plenty of downsides, including internal bleeding and vision damage.

Safe, natural anti-inflammatories like omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) and curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, are far safer choices.

And in addition to lowering inflammation, both omega 3 EFAs and curcumin enhance your health in other ways, easing aches and pains, depression, helping with weight management, and more.

I recommend taking 1,000 mg of omega-3s daily. Add a daily dose of 1,500 mg of curcumin, from a product with increased bioavailability to enhance absorption, and your chronic inflammation will be history.

Myth #4: Statins are the best way to protect against a heart attack.

Wrong again! According to a recent study reviewing earlier, high quality research on statins, the drugs are worthless in terms of preventing a first heart attack, although they have been shown effective at preventing a second.

But there is one thing that works and it doesn’t come with a long list of side effects and concerns.

Lifestyle changes, including stopping tobacco use, eating a nutritious, whole-foods diet, participating in moderate exercise regularly, and practicing stress management can’t be beat when it comes to protection against heart disease, not to mention most other chronic conditions, including cancer.

I know it’s difficult to give up favorite foods and change lifelong habits. But my recommendations are based on solid science. There is no longer any doubt that how we live affects how well we age and what diseases we develop.

When you choose to sit on the couch instead of going for a walk, or choose a cheeseburger and fries instead of healthier fare, you’re choosing heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, or another health issue that we know is caused by lifestyle.

Here’s the bottom line: Avoiding heart disease and living a long, healthy, active life starts with you, not a prescription pad. I hope you start today!

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