Statins. Do you take them and do you think they help

I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and prescribed statins. At first I resisted but my EP thought I should take them so I complied. There seems to be some debate about this and indeed whether cholesterol is the bad guy as portrayed by the medical profession. See Sherry Brescia " Myths and facts about our #1 killer".

Interested in what you all think.

30 Replies

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  • I think that the medical profession seem to have an overly developed fear of lots of things but I blame lawyers for that. The blame culture and ambulance chasing lawyers which started in another country has made doctors so careful about not allowing themselves any chance of a law suit through neglect.that they have progressively lowered limits for lots of ailments. My cholesterol was around 5.6 and I was put on artavastatin which brought it down to 4.2 which is apparently acceptable. Blood pressure is another thing which they have been bringing down for years. and whilst 145/85 was deemed OK a few years ago they now want it down to 135/75!

    All I will say abaout my own condition is that if statins enable me to continue eating strong cheese and chocolate rather than boiled fish then bring it on! lol

    Bob

  • There does seem to be a lot of debate within the medical profession about whether or not they are helpful. My cholesterol is 6.2, which is down from last year but the NHS testing does not give you the breakdown of the different types of lipids, which a private testing does. When that is taken into account ie the 'good' cholesterol I am well in the limits of 'healthy'. And I almost never eat cheese, red meat or the other 'bad' foods except butter, which I believe is much better for you, in small amounts, than all this statin soaked, manufactured spreads. But then have really low blood pressure, often much too low.

    What has always interested me is the French conundrum, with all their cheese and wine they still have a lower rate of heart disease?!

    Unless someone could give me a really good reason for taking statins, I don't think I would choose to take them. I think the medical industry is a bit like fashion, trends come and go.

  • I was told my cholesterol 'needed discussion' and it turned out the bad serum LDL was 3.52 and the total was 5.23. Statins were offered but I declined and took up cinnamon. Also stopped eating anything naughty, like butter, pastry and cream, and almost dropped cheese and halved full fat yoghurt. Didn't use manufactured spreads (agree with C Dreamer) but stuck to bananas or peanut butter with bread. Blood pressure was also an issue, so cut down on salt. Found potatoes without butter and salt very uninteresting and didn't eat many and chips are nicer with salt so I didn't eat many of those either. I lost a stone in 6 months and my LDL went to 1.79 and total cholesterol to 3.26. This is all before warfarin invaded.

    These are NHS test statistics - my GP practice give me a two page printout of blood test results but I have to ask for it.

    Have you told us how you are today CDreamer and I've missed it? Hope you are doing well.

  • Thank you for asking, I'm ok, trying to pace myself. Had 2 very short breakthroughs since the ablation. Bruising is now fading so don't want to be too enthusiastic as not yet 2 weeks but did some work yesterday for a presentation next Thurs and walked up small hill yesterday. So far so good.

    I have hypotension so am the opposite of most of you guys, which brings it's own challenges. When I asked for the full report I was told they didn't test for the LDL? Funny how different the practices are even though the same NHS.

  • That's sounding pretty good. Hope the breakthoughs diminish.

    i always ask for printed details of tests and also try to get a copy of an ECG if I can.

    My husband's BP is low, and I sometimes find him clinging to the wall at the top of the stairs.

  • G'day CDreamer,

    My meds intake started around 2007 when I was put on Ramipril for high blood pressure, then in 2008 I was put on Simvastatin 40 mg (and up till then my Cholesterol was 4.9 - it is now 3.3). Then in Jan 2010 came AF and added to the party bag was Bisoprolol 5mg and Warfarin (now averaging 5.5 mg a day and keeps me on target no sweat). Of course what I can't tell is the elasticity of my arteries before Simvastatin and the elasticity now - but I suspect there is an improvement. I have also added to all this 5 ml of Arctic Cod Liver Oil daily and all is well with my BP now averaging 127/75 and a heart rate of an average of 65 bpm - who is complaining, at 70 years of age this Sept, I'm not. This party bag works for me and no way would I change it. Main thing is it - along with diet changes - keeps me out of the clutches of my GP, Cardio Consultant and EP.

    Cheers,

    Aussie John

  • Thanks for your reply and G'day to you AussieJohn. I have been doing some reading around all this cholesterol stuff and the jury seems to be out as to whether cholesterol is the big baddy we have been lead to believe. I seem to have the highest HDL of all you guys but the only person to comment on it is the practice nurse who said 'could be lower but it is only a marker and everything else looks really good'?!

    If it works for you, you carry on but I think I will resist taking them, not that it has ever been suggested mind you, I said that about anticoagulants & I changed my mind about that!

    I'm on Flecainide, Bisoprolol & Dabigatron. Also take a refined fish oil, VitC, CoQ10, spirullina (fab seaweed/algae with high nutritional value & natural way of absorbing trace minerals) & calciumVitD(which is a prescribed supplement as I have osteoporosis ). Also try to have a varied, mixed diet, rarely drink now and don't miss it, avoid any caffeine and energy drinks and really enjoy life.

    Cheers

  • How long have you been on the calciumVitD meds? I also have osteoporosis and have read, and my GP confirm it, that AF and calcium don't go together, I am presently off the calcium meds for a two year break, I see the specialist again this year and am not sure what happens next.

  • About 2years, since I broke my ankle and had a delta scan which highlighted the osteoporosis. I have

    also talked my to my doctor about this but as I don't have any dairy products we both concluded that on balance I would be better taking a supplement than not. It is a difficult one. I must admit that I don't worry when I forget to take them.

  • Hi

    I started on statins 13 years to reduce my cholesterol level.

    Ten months ago I had to change statin type as I changed medication - but , because I don't have diabetes or chronic heart disease, I am not allowed any more cholesterol level blood tests. (New guidelines).

    So I am now taking statins and I don't even know if my level is too high , too low or OK.

    Marion

  • How ridiculous Marion, the no tests I mean, so are you going to continue to take them?

  • Yes I will continue to take them because my cholesterol level may go too high if I stop. l know of others who are still being tested so I will ask my GP again next month.

  • Statins have some great benefits and I suggest you do the research. They can make the blood flow easier and can reduce dementia and other circulatory related problems. In fact, my wife has a blood-thickening lymphoma with normal cholesterol and they have talked about statins for her to improve circulation.

    My cholesterol numbers were in the "good" range w/o statins when I had heart attack #1 and they put me on them. I was told that most of my heart arteries were fairly clear at that time.

    I have the bad heart genes and had been an exerciser and ate a very,very low cholesterol diet. With the low cholesterol diet and on the statins, my PCP said he had never seen such low cholesterol lab numbers. However, six months after heart attack #1 and on statins, I had heart attack #2 with the "widow maker" mostly blocked. I was told then it was because my HDL was so low.

    Another Cardio suggest the French diet and after some limited research on bringing up the HDL, I read in some French research that milk was one of the best sources of HDL. My Cardios scoff but I kept taking the statins and started eating eggs (every morning) and drinking 2% milk several times a week (mostly in Starbucks lattes and no, I don't want to hear bogus ideas about caffeine triggering Afib: caffeine is a stimulant and red wine is a depressant and so if you take both in perfect balance - the AFib is not triggered--- just kidding folks) .

    My "bad cholesterol" came up but is still in the normal range; but my "good cholesterol", the HDL has almost doubled and so far, no more heart attacks (about three years now). Unfortunately, the heart attacks caused this AFib funny business so there you are.

  • I think Bob sums up my feelings in that by bringing your cholesterol level down, you can up your chocolate intake, so I take my Atorvastatin. I could not take Simvastatin though, terrible muscle problems that made life unbearable.

    Koll

  • I have been on statins for about 12 years, long before AF came calling. They were prescribed back then because a cholesterol check showed a reading of a little above 6 which, though not excessive, was considered to be a little on the high side. Within days, I had a very severe reaction to the first tablets I was given - I can't remember the brand name - but my knees became incredibly swollen. Nowhere else, just the knees but I remember it was the middle of summer and in shorts I looked very odd indeed. My GP quickly responded by changing the statin to Simvastin and I never had another problem. I have to say I also take one of those little pots of Benecol most days - which, I know, may be a triumph of marketing rather than providing any real benefit, but it does taste nice. My overall cholesterol level for many years has hovered around 3.5 and I'm as happy as Larry. After a CT scan last year I was told I have the arteries of a 20 year old - I just wish everything else was in such good condition! Yes, I'm sold on statins.

  • I'm on Atorvastan too, and it's a preventative my score for the bad cholesterol was low around 3. something, but also my score for the good cholesterol was low (which is not good I understand) To be honest I'm not bothered about them had no problems, and just bswallow the pill each night.

    I am aware not everyone agrees however, but I can't stick to diets so for the moment I'd rather be on them

    Ian

  • Really interesting to hear everyone's opinions and comments. My own reservations are about whether cholesterol really does cause problems. I think the point being made is that perhaps it does not and that we are being given a medication that can more harm than good. The idea of good and bad cholesterol may be a fallacy!! I am sure this will be a debate that will come up again.

  • With all due respect lallym, I think you're the only one having this debate. When your body produces excessive LDL cholesterol (very little is diet related) it can be harmful and statins most certainly reduce levels. There's no significant argument about that. Side effects of course might mitigate against treatment but a report published only yesterday confirmed that these are few. It's a magical little tablet which, with others, is driving up human life expectancy. Take the medicine lallym and worry more about pension provision for the young.....

  • Thanks leelac for your reply. However I disagree that things are as black and white as you say and the fact that so many people have contributed to this discussion shows many people are questioning it -not just me. Also, the fact that I question a theory does not stop me from being able to consider other problems e.g. pension provision for the young. Multi tasking/thinking is possible! Again appreciate your input and be well.

  • Well said lallym, I'm with you...

  • Thanks !!

  • I'm with you too Lallym.

  • The benefits or otherwise of statins is quite a controversial area. There was a trial reported a day or so ago which indicated few side effects of statins, though it showed an increased risk of diabetes by about 25%. There are quite a lot of scientists who believe the benefits of statins are overplayed. Their benefits may be more from an anti-inflammatory action rather than just the reduction in cholestrol.

    My cardio said he believes there is a sub-clinical reduction in mental ability (slight memory loss) with statins. This would not have been picked in the trials.

    I did try atorvastatin for a few months a few years ago when a small trial indicated it reduced AF. However I kept a detailed diary and it had absolutely no impact so I stopped.

    My total cholestrol hovers around the 5 mark. Some doctors might prescribe statins for that as it's sometimes over 5. However my own view is that it's not worth taking unless it's over 7 or you have or are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. It worries me that statins are not backed up by solid science - we are unsure how they work, just what the benefits are and what the side effects are. These might be limited to an increase in diabetes but that is a very serious disease, indeed it is considered now to be stage 1 Alzheimers.

    Mark

  • Mark I tend to agree with all you say..

  • I have been on statins for years and as Bob says it means I can eat chocolate it's worth it. When you have cholesterol test they always do the break down of the different components, this will go to whomever asked for the test, and you can always ask them for the results.

  • Hi

    Does anyone know where I can find the new guidelines which say I can't have a blood test to check my cholesterol levels anymore? (unless I get diabetes or chronic/coronary heart disease).

    I was prescribed statins 11 years before being diagnosed with AF and now the blood tests have stopped.

    Thanks.

    Marion

  • Sorry Marion I can't help but this debate is interesting. Hope someone can help you soon.

  • Hi Lallym,

    I think you are wise to maintain a healthy scepticism of the drug company's claims. They often minimise the importance of negative test results (such as the fact that statins suppress the production of co-enzyme Q10). Also the effects of too low a cholesterol level can often be far more insidious than too high a level.

    Mike.

  • There seem to be two extreme views about statins, either that everyone over 50 should be taking them as a preventative measure, or that because of possible side effects no-one should be taking them at all.

    This seems to me to ignore the fact that people's bodies don't all respond to high levels of cholesterol in the same way. Some people clearly have a constution that for some reason can tolerate high levels without any ill effects - others, like myself, suffer ill effects from levels that are considered normal.

    When I had my heart attack 13 years ago I had none of the supposed risk factors, and my cholesterol level was about 6. Since then I have been taking Simvastatin and this has reduced my level to between 3 and 4, so I would consider the medication vital in my situation.

    My view therefore is that the decision whether to take statins or not should be made on the factors that apply in each case, weighing up the advantages and disadvantages before coming to a decision.

  • The reason I raised this is I have been reading some of the literature that more or less says this issue of treating cholesterol is a bit like 'the earth is flat thinking'. In fact says in general cholesterol is good and is an attempt by the body to repair other damage. Therefore often found in those of us who are having heart problems. Newer studies seem to be showing that saturated fats are not the culprits we think they are and sugars may be causing much more damage than previously thought. This would explain the French with more fats but less heart disease. I am not saying all this is absolute truth but it is an interesting idea and good to kep an open mind. Thanks again to all who contributed to this topic.. Marie

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