You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out. A major health agency is finally ready to get people off risky cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
And for a good reason, too. These meds not only miss the target, but studies also show they don’t even save or improve lives. Plus, statins not only can hurt you with side effects like memory loss and muscle pain, but researchers say they can also cause diabetes.
So I’m truly relieved to see a major organization release new guidelines dramatically limiting who gets these meds.
There’s just one problem. It’s not one of OUR major organizations.
Instead, U.S. health authorities continue to work to expand the use of these meds to millions of new patients.
Meanwhile, European officials are moving in the right direction. So I’ll share how to follow their lead without leaving the country.
Try a European approach to statins
Last year the European Society of Cardiology quietly updated its guidelines on who should take statin drugs to cut cholesterol.
Few people noticed at the time. But now, a new analysis looks at the impact. And let’s just say a lot of the people who love statins are very unhappy with what was uncovered.
In fact, even the authors of this new report appear to be miffed. Because in the end, it reads more like a complaint than an analysis.
The authors gripe that the new guidelines limit statins to just four percent of the people who “should” get them in low-risk nations. And they appear to be especially mad that those same guidelines reduce statin use to less than one percent of women.
If you ask me, I’d say that’s worth a celebration. Maybe even a holiday. Statin users across Europe could dump their meds at the same time on the same day to mark the occasion.
But instead, the team behind this analysis is pointing out that most people in Europe with heart disease won’t even get statins due to these guidelines. And they’re urging authorities to issue an update that would bring Europe back into line with U.S. standards.
You know the ones they’re referring to where pretty much anyone over 40 with a pulse is given statins (and sometimes I think the pulse is optional).
All I can say is I hope they don’t.
Statins fail to deliver
Here’s the problem. Studies show that statins simply aren’t all they’ve cracked up to be.
They do lower LDL cholesterol levels. But they don’t deliver on the promise of a longer, better life as a result. In fact, a major study found statins don’t provide significant cardiovascular protection.
So statins won’t really help much… if at all. But they sure can hurt.
As I mentioned earlier, taking the drugs can trigger diabetes in some cases. Plus, statins come with a host of potential side effects that range from the unpleasant, such as muscle pain, to the outright dangerous, like liver and kidney problems.
Despite the anti-cholesterol hype, you actually NEED a certain amount of cholesterol. And that includes some LDL or the so-called “bad” stuff targeted by the drugs.
The LDL you need to actually worry about is the smaller, denser, oxidized particles that can stick to blood vessels and build up. And unfortunately, statins don’t specifically target it.
But a diet low in sugars and rich in antioxidants CAN make a significant dent in this dangerous form of cholesterol. Focus on colorful and antioxidant-rich produce such as berries and grapes.
And consider an antioxidant supplement too. Look for one with astaxanthin for even more protection. Astaxanthin has been proven to help fight small and dangerous LDL particles.
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