Fifty percent of people don't survive their first heart attack.
majomka / Pixabay – Fifty percent of people don’t survive their first heart attack.

Statin drugs lower cholesterol by blocking the enzyme, hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase) It is responsible for producing cholesterol by your liver.  Cholesterol is a critical component of your health. It is critical for the normal function of every cell in your body.

Cholesterol can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.  Over time cholesterol and other oxidized fatty plaques can accumulate on the inside surface of your artery walls.  As these plaques grow it is possible to reduce or block the flow of blood to your heart.  You may notice this constriction from pain around your heart – angina.

The interesting thing that I’ve discovered is that half the people who die from a heart attack have no warning – no chest pain.  Half the people who die from a heart attack have healthy levels of cholesterol.  What does that mean?  Maybe cholesterol is not the ‘marker’ to be measured for heart disease.  Most of the studies I’ve researched indicate that heart disease can be moderated by reducing the inflammation in your body.

Cholesterol is measured differently around the world.  In the United States, cholesterol is measured in totality and is broken down into components.  A total cholesterol reading of 200 mg/dL is considered desirable.  Borderline high total cholesterol has been defined as 200-239 mg/dL.  High total cholesterol is defined as anything over 240 mg/dL. Friends of mine with desirable cholesterol have been put on statin drugs as a preventive precaution in case their cholesterol might get higher as they age.

Two of the primary components of cholesterol are LDL and HDL.  Cholesterol is made up of five groups of lipoproteins.  The smallest are chylomicrons followed in increasing size by VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein), IDL (intermediate density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is considered as ’bad’ cholesterol and HDL is considered to be “good” cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol levels are defined as follows:  Very high LDL is 190 mg/dL or above; high LDL is 160-189 mg/dL; borderline LDL is 130-159 mg/dL; and, near ideal LDL is 100-129 mg/dL. For people at risk of heart disease, LDL cholesterol should be below 100 mg/dL.  For people at very high risk of heart disease, your LDL cholesterol should be below 70 mg/dL.

High risk of heart disease is someone who has had a previous heart attack or stroke.  It also includes artery blockages detected in your carotid (neck) and peripheral (arms and/or legs) arteries.  The following activities are also contained in the definition of high risk of heart disease:  smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of early heart disease and age – older than 45 for men and older than 55 for women.

HDL cholesterol has been defined by the following levels.  Poor or low HDL cholesterol is below 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women.  ‘Better’ HDL is defined as 50-59 mg/dL.  The ‘best’ HDL is defined as 60 mg/dL or above.  HDL cholesterol has been shown to reduce or lessen the build-up of plaque on your artery walls.

Statin drugs are dangerous – read the side effects.  Statin drugs are linked to chronic fatigue, liver damage, muscle pain, nausea, lowered mental performance, cardiomyopathy (deterioration of your heart’s function), heart problems (depletion of coenzyme Q 10 in your heart – which can cause congestive heart failure), and even death.

You will feel older and look older if you take statin drugs for a long time.  They sap your strength.  Fatigue results in weight gain and other health problems.  Are these side effects worth a perceived lowering of your risk of heart disease caused by high levels of cholesterol?

If half the people who die from a heart attack have healthy levels of cholesterol, why take a drug that has side effects that can do you real harm?  What’s even worse is that doctors are now prescribing statin drugs to children as young as 8 years old.  Should you accept the side effect risks for your child?

I think statin drugs are dangerous for at least 95% of the people taking them. Several people I know have quit taking statin drugs because the side effects impacted the quality of their lives. If you suffer because of any drug you are taking, talk to your doctor about any options you might have.

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