Statins and Your Heart

© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

The National Institutes of Health recommends that if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol you should use lifestyle changes for 12 weeks. If your cholesterol has not lowered after 3 months then consider using a statin. Unfortunately, most physicians do not follow these guidelines. Most physicians reach for the prescription pad and write an order for a pharmaceutical drug, a statin.

A new study published in the American Heart Journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, January, 2009 found that nearly two-thirds of patients admitted to hospitals for heart attacks and cardiovascular events had low LDL-cholesterol levels, indicating they were not at high risk for heart problems. Heart disease, like so many other diseases is primarily caused by inflammation.

An analysis at the University of California at San Francisco of studies on ”a heart drug”  showed that 96% of authors with drug company ties showed it to be safe, compared to 37% of authors with no ties. American Medical News Sept 2000.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential cofactor in the mitochondria. The mitochondria are located in the cell and are responsible for energy production. CoQ is also a lipid-soluble antioxidant. CoQ10 deficiency has been implicated in several clinical disorders including but not limited to heart failure, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. Patients can also experience muscle pain, difficulty walking, and cardiomyopathy. Also documented are peripheral neuropathies; gastrointestinal symptoms, including liver injury and progression of cataracts.

Statins lower CoQ10. This is a long-overlooked but grave problem. CoQ10 supplementation is essential for anyone on a statin. In the Archives of Neurology, June 2004 research showed that after 14 days of using a statin, the levels of CoQ10 were lowered.

The quality of the supplements that we take is extremely important. Research shows that over the counter and online supplements contain contaminates 40-50% of the time and do not contain what the label says 40-50% of the time. Therefore, always get the highest quality supplements and check with a knowledgeable physician to guide you in your selection. The recommended dose of CoQ10 is 60 mg twice a day, however, some people may need 300 mg twice a day. Check with your physician. Your health and your life depends on it.

What else can be used to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol?  L- Carnitine may also be helpful. Aerobic exercise and good nutrition have been shown to lower cholesterol.

Satins can also lower your cholesterol to a dangerously low level. I attended an international medical conference in London in November 2010. Speakers presented the data showing cholesterol below 160 was associated with an increase risk of cancer. Unfortunately the dangers of low cholesterol have been less well publicized. There is a wealth of articles and health books that discuss how to prevent high cholesterol, but very few on how to prevent or treat abnormally low cholesterol.

Abnormally low levels of cholesterol may indicate:

  • Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
  • Liver disease
  • Inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestines
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor metabolism
  • Compromised health

Similarly, patients with environmental illness often have low cholesterol including those with sensitivity to foods, chemical or frequencies, like Wi-Fi. Infertility has been linked to low cholesterol.

Cholesterol is essential for:

  • Formation and maintenance of cell membranes (essential for life)
  • Formation of sex hormones (progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, cortisol)
  • Production of bile salts, which help to digest food
  • Conversion into vitamin D in the skin when exposed to sunlight.

Cholesterol is made primarily in your liver (about 1,000 milligrams a day), but it is also created by cells lining the small intestine and by individual cells in the body. Very low cholesterol may mean your body is “shutting down”.

Low cholesterol is not healthy. In 1990, a NIH conference concluded from a meta-analysis of 19 studies that men and, to a lesser extent, women with a total serum cholesterol level below 160 mg (6th percentile) exhibited about a 10% to 20% excess total mortality compared with those with a cholesterol level between 160 to 199 mg. Meilahn, Elaine, MD Circulation, 1995; Low Cholesterol has been shown to increase the risk of dying from gastrointestinal and respiratory disease.

The bottom line is to keep your cholesterol and your life in balance for optimal health.

Written By: Dr. Sharon Norling, MBA