When you hit your mid-30s, your cholesterol levels may be in for a change. Your “bad” cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, or LDL) may start to rise and your “good” cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, or HDL) may start to drop.
The Status Quo
Doctors often reflexively treat these changes to prevent cholesterol-related heart issues. They do this by administering drugs called statins, which block an enzyme essential for cholesterol production, thereby lowering cholesterol in the blood.
Sounds like a great, simple solution, doesn’t it? But while cholesterol levels do drop after statins are taken, a host of side effects may come along for the ride. Among the most significant of these side effects: statins also block the production of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant essential for oxygen utilization and energy production, particularly in heart muscle cells.
Furthermore, statins’ effects on cholesterol may interfere with critical aspects of hormonal production, since cholesterol is a building block of many hormones. Other side effects may include increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, muscle pain and weakness, neuropathy, tendon problems, memory loss, and confusion.
In fact, there are over 900 studies documenting the adverse effects of taking prescription statin drugs. One study from 2010, an Annals of Internal Medicine meta-analysis (which correlates data from many studies), showed that statins used for primary prevention (i.e. before any heart attack occurs) have little-to-no effect on prolonging the lives of patients. Meaning if you haven’t had a heart attack, taking a statin won’t help you live a day longer than not taking one.
If someone has already had a heart attack and has plaque in their arteries, I sometimes use statins, because they are effective at stabilizing plaque build up. But if I’m helping a patient with his/her heart and cholesterol levels more generally, I have a different approach.
Treating Cholesterol: The Natural Approach
One way I like to treat high cholesterol problems is by using red yeast rice, an extremely effective supplement that’s also a natural statin. The “natural” here isn’t an empty term; red yeast rice lowers LDL levels but without many of the negative effects of prescription statin drugs. And although red yeast rice does affect CoQ10 levels, the brand I use has CoQ10 added in. Red Yeast Rice lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and raises HDL. Treatment with red yeast rice has actually been shown to decrease cardiovascular death by 30% and total death by 33%.
I also use fish oil containing the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – 4,000 – 5,000 grams daily – to help lower LDL cholesterol. This dose also has been shown to decrease clot formation and cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat).
When it comes to the problem of low HDL cholesterol, I treat this very aggressively, since for every 1 point rise in your HDL number, coronary artery disease risk decreases by 2-3%! Statins are only marginally effective to that end. Instead, I administer niacin, also know as vitamin B6, which raises HDL (and also lowers LDL). Some patients get a flushed feeling after taking high doses of niacin, but the flushes are generally brief, and can be mediated by taking the supplement with food or by taking a controlled-release form. Reducing dietary carbohydrates and cardiovascular exercise also increase HDL cholesterol.
For post-heart attack patients with unstable plaque, statins are a good option doctors have. But for primary care, natural and gentle options are available. There’s no reason to not treat elevated LDL and lowered HDL, but there’s also no reason to be on a strong prescription medication if it’s unlikely to help extend or improve your life.
I’ve saved the best for last: The best was to manage cholesterol problems and decrease cardiovascular disease risk is with bio-identical hormone replacement. The correct forms and dosages of thyroid, testosterone, estrogen, HGH, and other hormones can all reverse cholesterol problems.
For an evaluation of your cholesterol levels and to take the first step in optimizing your health, Call The Body Well today at (323) 874-9355 and schedule an evaluation. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.