Alternatives to Toxic Heart Meds are Increasingly Popular.
At least 30 percent of Americans have LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels that are considered too high. But despite the popularity of statin drugs within the medical community, people don’t always stick with these medications.
Only about half of those prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug still take it after six months. After a year, only about 30 to 40 percent continue drug therapy.
“There’s been a lot of negative press about statins lately,” cardiologist Christopher Cannon, MD, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently told the Boston Globe. The Canadian government recently placed a warning on statins, alerting consumers that these drugs diminish coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) in the body, which can lead to heart failure.
“This effect certainly has major implications for patients with cardiac disease,” explains cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, CN, CNS, “and is especially true for patients with congestive heart failure or an overactive thyroid gland.”
Impaired memory, disorientation, confusion, muscle aches, inflammation, and weakness are other serious side effects from these drugs. Abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, skin flushing or rash, and trouble sleeping are also common complaints.
No wonder the National Health Interview Study shows that the use of alternatives to statin drugs has doubled since 2002. What natural alternative is most often chosen to protect the heart? Heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids top the list.
New Australian research finds that omega-3 fats, when combined with phytosterols like those found in flax seeds, not only lower total and LDL cholesterol but also reduce inflammation and lower triglycerides. This natural regimen costs only a fraction of what statins cost.
Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:
Just the mention of cholesterol can strike fear in the hearts of most Americans. What the mainstream media and conventional cardiologists seem to ignore is that there are much better indicators of heart disease than cholesterol levels.
One such indicator is homocysteine – an amino acid-type substance found in the blood. Too much homocysteine is related to an increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Another often overlooked indicator involves elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance secreted by the liver in response to inflammatory events throughout the body. A study by Dr. Paul Ridker shows that CRP levels are actually superior to LDL cholesterol in predicting cardiovascular events.
And one more thing.
Let’s not lower cholesterol levels too much.
Low cholesterol can be as detrimental as too much. Don’t forget: Cholesterol is so essential to good health that it’s found in almost every human cell. This fatty material comprises much of the brain and helps form the protective coating around the nerves. Cholesterol in the skin reacts with sunshine to produce vitamin D. In the body, this fatty substance helps manufacture adrenal and sex hormones, aids in the production of bile needed for fat digestion, and acts as a lubricant in the artery walls, reducing friction in blood flow.
To ensure sufficient cholesterol for all these critical functions, your brain and liver manufacture about 80 percent of what the body needs. Levels below 160 mg/dl may indicate anemia, infection, and excess thyroid function. People with autoimmune problems have significantly low cholesterol levels.
While cholesterol consumption from animal fat has remained essentially unchanged for the past century, the rates of heart disease have skyrocketed during that time. However, both sugar and processed oil consumption have risen considerably. In addition, research links heart disease to deficiencies of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E – which keeps cholesterol from oxidizing and turning into LDLs – and the minerals chromium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Important B vitamins (particularly B6, B12, and folic acid) are also likely to be deficient in today’s highly processed diet—and that leads to a buildup of homocysteine. When homocysteine combines with LDL cholesterol, this dangerous mix damages artery walls and causes plaque buildup.
In addition to a healthy diet with plenty of brightly colored vegetables and fruits plus regular exercise, make sure you get sufficient antioxidants and B vitamins in your daily multiple vitamin and mineral formula.
And if you do take a statin drug, you must take additional CoQ10 – from 100 – 300 mg.
For optimal health on all levels, take two to four tablespoons of flaxseed daily. Adding tasty flax to smoothies and sprinkling these seeds onto salads can lower cholesterol by 18 percent. I like Organic Cold Milled Flax Seeds, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. In addition to supporting healthy cholesterol levels, flax helps maintain a strong immune system, hormone balance, and bowel regularity.