Cholesterol is Bad. Isn’t it ? – Part 4

Please go to Part 1 of the post if you have not already read it.

Managing Cholesterol Levels

How can I increase my HDL then?

Drugs companies have been trying for a number of years to manufacture drugs that elevate or increase HDL levels. They have been able to manufacture drugs that can achieve this but in most of the clinical trials more people taking these drugs died compared to ones not taking the drugs. In fact, the HDL levels have increased significantly but without much benefit.

So it appears that artificially increasing HDL levels cannot do the trick. I guess these drugs have not been able to mimic what naturally happens in the body.

The best way to increase HDL is through a healthy Diet and Lifestyle.

My doctor prescribed Statins for me because I have a high Cholesterol. What are Statins?

Statins are a class of drugs which inhibit the production of an enzyme used in the production of Cholesterol. By inhibiting the process the TC and LDL levels are reduced in a complicated way. I think that’s about as much as we need to know.

There is not much controversy around the Cholesterol reducing effect of Statins.

So Statins save lives by reducing Cholesterol. Is that correct?

Not exactly. Apart from reducing Cholesterol levels, Statins also reduce what is known as Inflammation (this has been proven by measuring the level of inflammation marker(s) before and after taking Statins). It is thought that some of the beneficial effects of Statins are due to the reduction in inflammation rather than their ability to lower Cholesterol.

Should I take Statins?

Statins are one of the biggest selling drugs of all time with close to a 100 million people taking Statins across the world. Statins have made the Pharma companies close to 300 billion dollars in total, according to some research.

As soon as your Cholesterol levels are above 200 or LDL above 100-130, your GP may be ready to prescribe a Statin for you. I urge you to discuss the need for taking Statins and advise caution particularly if you have not already had a Heart Attack.

Statins are known to have a number of side effects most notably – muscle damage, polyneuropathy, liver damage, cancers etc. and you need to weigh the risks and benefits before you go onto Statins.

However, there is one group that is definitely likely to benefit from Statins – people who have already had Heart Disease.

For other people who have higher Cholesterol levels(but no prior history of Heart Disease), some people believe that Statins are over-prescribed though the Pharma companies and doctors would always encourage you to take Statins. The risks might outweigh the benefits. Also remember that if your Cholesterol levels go too low your risk of death could go higher.

This is what Wiki has to say (an extract):

“Research has found that statins are most effective for treating cardiovascular disease (secondary prevention), with questionable benefit in those without previous CVD but with elevated cholesterol levels.Statins have rare but severe adverse effects, particularly muscle damage, and some doctors believe they are over prescribed”.

A popular media article in the Daily Mail below

Benefits of statins are exaggerated and not always the best way to prevent heart disease, study claims

 You can also read the following BBC articles

‘Unintended’ statin side-effect risks uncovered

 Q&A: The debate over statins

So, if not Cholesterol hat causes Heart Disease and Stroke (CVD)?

There are several theories and I don’t think there is the last word on this yet. But a number of aspects seem to be converging to say that “Inflammation” is perhaps key to CVD.(remember that Statins lower inflammation apart from lowering Cholesterol levels)

A slight digression: Most of the Statins are going to go out of patent soon. This will result in a huge drop in revenues for the Big Pharma since Generic versions are coming along. Given that the Cholesterol bandwagon has had its day (and made enough money and will no longer make money for Big Pharma), I can see that the messages will start moving away from Cholesterol onto other things like Inflammation. This will enable the Big Pharma to tinker with the existing drugs a little and apply for a new patent or introduce a new drug soon and make a few more billions.

So what causes Inflammation?

This will be the subject of a future post but a brief overview below:

  1. Smoking
  2. Excessive alcohol consumption
  3. Sugars and Fructose
  4. High-Glycemic Foods (Processed, Refined Carbs etc.)
  5. Highly Refined Vegetable Oils
  6. Trans Fats or Hydrogenated products
  7. Stress Levels

Hope you enjoyed the post..

 

2 Comments

  • Mabu

    Ramki,

    First of all, thanks for the blog, which will help create the awareness.
    Statins are keeping the LDL/HDL under limit. I see the difference when they are stopped.

    Statin’s side affects listed in your blog are notable. Lipid control clinic monitor closely various forms of cholestrol.

    I must say the blog is fantastic.

    Thanks
    Mabu

    • Ramki Ravulapalli

      Dear Mabu

      Good to see that you are enjoying the Blog.

      It is best if you can manage your Cholesterol through lifestyle changes as opposed to using medication (statins etc.). There is a very vigorous debate around the benefit of statins for people who have not already had heart disease or stroke. They certainly seem to help people who have had a heart attack or stroke.

      While you are undertaking these changes, please make sure your doctor is fully informed.

      Regards
      Ramki

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