Nearly 600,000 people die of heart disease every year in the US. That’s 1 in 4 deaths, making it the leading cause of death in America. The annual cost of coronary heart disease is one billion dollars.
And all of this suffering and money spent is for a disease process that is largely preventable. Think about that for a minute!
So what does your doctor tell you to do to avoid this seemingly inevitable fate? Unfortunately it’s not typically what they should be saying. In the conventional medicine world, practitioners are so limited on time seeing 30 to 40 patients a day that they simply aren’t equipped to help patients prevent or truly solve heart disease.
At best your risk factors are assessed using your blood pressure and a very basic cholesterol panel, which is far from the whole story when it comes to cardiovascular health. And if they find that your risk factors are high, the first treatment they jump to is the cheapest pharmaceutical your insurance will approve.
The National Institute for Health Statistics sums up the conventional thought process for cardiovascular disease pretty well by saying, although cholesterol levels may be reduced by dietary modifications and increased physical activity, these lifestyle changes are essentially difficult to maintain. It’s in those cases, or for persons with other risk factors for heart disease, that the use of cholesterol lowering medications is often suggested.
So what they’re saying is, yes lifestyle changes can prevent and correct the issue, but it’s too hard. So you’re better off just taking a pill. That’s just crazy!
So let’s learn a little more about these cholesterol medications, also known as statins, that over 25% of our population over the age of 40 are taking. Because it may make you think twice before taking the “easy road”.
Here are 8 things to consider before jumping straight to cholesterol medications or statins.
1. Cholesterol is only one piece of the heart disease puzzle
The risk for heart disease is multifactorial, and each case is different! Stress, autoimmunity, genetics, inflammation, blood sugar levels, toxic exposure, endothelial dysfunction, nutrition, and a whole other host of factors come together to determine your risk.
Inflammation in particular plays a huge role in heart disease, which I why I recommend that all of my patients take a high-quality Omega 3 supplement.
2. You need cholesterol to be healthy
Cholesterol is found in almost every cell in your body and contributes to your overall health. It’s a naturally occuring substance required for optimal cell, nerve, and hormone function.
3. Cholesterol Makes Hormones, Bile Acid, and Energy
Statins are particularly important for producing sex hormones. In fact, I see a lot of people coming into my clinic on statins who now have low libido, or erectile dysfunction and fatigue, and this is from their medications depleting their cholesterol.
It’s also important for bile acid production, which is key because we need bile to break down fat from our food so we can extract the nutrients and optimize our energy function.
4. Statins Have Also Been Shown to Cause Memory Loss
The FDA mandates warnings on statin labels that some patients taking these drugs develop memory loss or confusion.
5. Statins Can Cause Muscle Breakdown
Muscle pain and loss is one of the most common side effects in patients taking cholesterol-lowering medications. This is because statins block an enzyme that is essential for the production of CoQ10. CoQ10 is an enzyme with a variety of purposes, including acting as an antioxidant and a key player in cellular energy production. Studies have shown that decreased CoQ10 levels can result in muscle damage as well as other unpleasant and harmful side effects.
6. Cholesterol Medications Can Cause Liver and Kidney Damage
Statin use has been shown to cause an increase in the enzymes that signal liver inflammation.
7. Statins Increase Your Risk for Developing Diabetes
So here we are trying to minimize your cardiovascular disease risk, and we are adding in something that actually increases it!
8. A Basic Cholesterol Profile Does Not Tell You the Whole Story
There are various atherogenic particles that should be looked at to see if the particles present are high-risk or low-risk. In 2009 a large study found that 75% of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that were essentially normal.
The Statistics on Statins
It’s also important to note the statistics on statins. Here are the findings from Numbers Needed to Treat, which estimates the number of patients who would need to receive a treatment in order to prevent one adverse outcome.
If statins are given for 5 years to patients with known cardiovascular disease, 83 people would need to be treated for 1 life to be saved. On the flip side, 1 in 10 people developed muscle damage, and 1 in 50 developed diabetes with statin therapy. In people with low risk for cardiovascular disease, only 1 person out of 270 people treated would avoid a non-fatal heart attack.
Now in no way am I saying not to take a cardiovascular medication if your doctor prescribes it. What I’m saying is to think about the big picture, and where you want to be on the spectrum.
Do you want to continue on your current path, relying on cholesterol medications that address a fraction of cardiovascular risk and come at the price of developing side effects like diabetes, muscle damage, memory loss, and more? Or are you ready to transform your health and address why heart disease develops to begin with, which takes care of multiple risk factors at once?
Life is a blessing, you have worked hard for everything you have and to have it disappear from the silent killer that takes over 25% of our population is not an option! Let’s work together, break this vicious cycle and figure out a real solution.
I have helped thousands of people from around the world reclaim their health, develop sustainable lifestyle habits, and remove their dependance on problematic pharmaceuticals so they can focus in on the things that matter most in life. I want to help you get some real answers too.
It’s time to stop procrastinating! Let me help you achieve the state of wellness you know you deserve. If you continue to wait, the risk for developing disease continues to grow, and that’s just not acceptable.
If you want to get to the root of your health problems, call GrassRoots Functional Medicine at (888) 644-7668, and set up a free 10-minute consult with me. Together we can review your timeline, discuss your goals, and discuss whether or not you would be a good fit for our Adaptation Program!
The time to act was yesterday, but today is the next best thing!
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.