Statins: My GP wants me to start on statins... - AF Association

AF Association

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My GP wants me to start on statins based on an analysis of my cholesterol level and various other factors including postcode (not sure why this is a consideration as I live in a fairly ordinary surburban area). When I read up on statins I was rather put off when I read about the risk of type 2 diabetes. My present blood glucose levels are normal. I wondered what the experience of others with statins has been and also how they relate to AF.

144 Replies

All I can say is that personally, I wouldn't consider taking statins unless my cholesterol was well over 6 and there would be a fight not to then as well. I'd want a chance to reduce it by diet and exercise myself. I guess if it's super high you may have no choice.


My serum cholesterol level was 5.14 mmol/L which is defined as “mildly high”. However, I think doctors also look other tests in conjunction with cholesterol. 5.14 does seem a bit on the low side- the doctor didn’t really explain his reasoning but just said they use a calculator which shows I should be on statins. I would prefer to try to reduce the cholesterol with diet and exercise as you suggest.

My cholesterol level is 4.6, at one stage it was a little higher. I think doctors like all older people to be on them as a precaution, but I know someone who suffered terrible leg pain while taking them and I'm afraid it's put me off! He tried lots of different makes, but still the pain persisted. As he had two stents in his heart he felt he just had to continue with them.

I suppose if I got bad leg pains I could just stop taking them. It’s the diabetes risk that worries me more.

What's the diabetes risk?

Some people who take statins -I don’t know what percentage-develop diabetes type 2.

I didn't know that, it's awful. My thyroid was damaged (made underactive) by my taking amiodarone. Hate the side effects drugs have!

A friend who took amiodarone - not for AF- now has to take thyroxine. It’s notorious for causing hypothyroidism unfortunately.

Yes, at an AF meeting we had a few years ago, out of about 20 of us who attended, 3 people had suffered thyroid damage because of Amiodarone. Trouble is few people know they should go on to the Yellow Card website to report the drugs side effects.

JeaniePlease please please stop repeating this lone statistic from an unrepresentative sample group . Doctors know the potential side effects of Amiodarone and in my experience follow it carefully and prescribe it for short periods. I have just come off it after 4 months with regular blood tests, no side effects ( no daylight light sensitivity)and no damage to my thyroid. Because of your previous post of this statistic I was petrified of taking Amiodarone. A leading London electrophysiologist told me that the fear itself was never going to help, basically telling me to man up. Please stop imparting fear into people because of your experience at the meeting. The list of potential side effects on the Amiodarone leaflet belies your comment about the Yellow card website. I looked at the list once then never again, you simply don’t need the nocebo effect to come into play.

I know you mean well, but from my own experience your intentions can be counter productive.

I'm sorry I cannot keep quiet about the damage Amiodarone did to my thyroid. I had no energy for ages and thought it was all part of AF. You have no idea how I suffered! Was considering moving house as I couldn't cope with the garden. I now have to take tablets for life to rectify that awful drained feeling. If I can prevent others having their thyroid damaged I will. We must all speak as we find. When you see me mention this you can always add your positive experience with the drug. Do you really only want people to hear positive opinions on this forum, or the truth so they can form their own opinion?

I was on amiodarone for 8 months, and had no problem at all with it, and when I'm discussing it with others I say so, but that doesn't alter the fact that it's a dangerous drug. What's very wrong is making decisions for others, and feeding biased information to them so that they make the decision you want them to. If they're adults they should be given all the information and allowed to make decisions for themselves.

If your fortune had been different, and you had possibly ended up with fatal consequences of taking the drug, how would you feel if you then found out that someone had been covering up the harmful side effects?

You may or may not be aware that there was a landmark case in 2015 between Montgomery vs Lanark Health Board that went all the way to the supreme court. The issue was about obtaining informed consent. Nadine Montgomery won the case, setting a new legal precedent that it is the patient's decision what information is relevant in order to give informed consent, and not the doctor's. This is supposed to put an end to the patronising, paternalistic, doctor-knows-best attitude that drip feeds only half the information the patient needs in order to be in control of their own healthcare.

I've always tended to judge doctors for the patronising way they treat patients, but when I see the number of people on here who appear to want to be treated like children, I can't help but wonder if doctors have simply learnt to cater to demand.

My goodness what a terrible reply. Another inflammatory question fired back at me. You have intimated that the medical profession is covering up the harmful side effects of this drug. Having taken Amiodarone as well you will have read the side effects leaflet that came with it, it's frightening. You contradict yourself.As I said in my original post, my experience is that doctors take great care, not everyone will have this experience of course.

Your comment regarding people using this website acting like children is patronising in the extreme. Actually, your comment is insulting, you should be ashamed.

It's the medical profession who are patronising, not me. In my experience, if the doctors tell you anything at all about risks, it's not until you have a pen and a consent form in your hand five minutes before they wheel you into the theatre.

It's you who are contradicting yourself, first complaining if people on here discuss side effects, then acknowledging that the PIL already lists them anyway. Someone taking amiodarone once came on here complaining of a persistent cough, but seemingly unaware or uninterested that the PIL says:

"Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people).....coughing which will not go away.....This could be due to inflammation of your lungs which can be very dangerous"

Should nobody tell him? I notice you didn't answer when I asked how you would feel if you suffered serious effects after having nobody warn you of them whilst you're still in a position to make an informed decision.

"appear to want to be treated like children" is what I said, don't put words in my mouth, it's dishonest.

Since I joined, there have been two people come on here with terminal lung fibrosis from amiodarone.

I have a friend who stopped taking them and the leg pain persisted. It usually stops but not always.

Yes, statins can permanently damage the muscles I believe.

I would seriously think twice and then think again especially if you are a woman. I have been reading lots about the "medically published" articles and i am dumfounded at how false these studies are because of the connection the head doctors and researchers have to the companies that make the statins. I was disgusted to learn the percentage of women used in the research was none to very few. I was also livid to learn about the Juniper study that said the possibility of diabetes was 18 % but after researchers in France reviewed that research and the study without the bias's they found that for women getting diabetes it was more like 48% and went up for 60 and over.

It's a disgrace that people are not aware of this fact. I certainly wasn't.

Jessiems in reply to scotsrish

Wow. I didn’t know that. I am on statins (I haven’t eaten meat for 30years and practically vegan so diet not an issue). My cholesterol is 5.1(with statins) but the good cholesterol is 2.8 but this adds to the overall score and makes total cholesterol higher 🤔. I am really wondering now if I should stop

Auriculaire in reply to Jessiems

That is why taking total cholesterol as the marker is just so ridiculous.

KMRobbo in reply to Auriculaire

My Cholesterol from my last test was 7 but I have more "good" cholesterol than" bad"

I was not put on statins because of that and I think other markers.

In the Early 2000s I was put on Statins when I had a little bit of a health problem that resolved itself, as a knee jerk as my BP was a little high and my Cholesterol was over 5 at. I took Simvastatin. I gave me pain in my arms if I recall correctly. After some tests on my issue and the fact the symptoms went away I stopped taking them.

Ianc2 in reply to scotsrish

Just looked at the Juniper study. It was not a very large study (about 9000 people) and was terminated early. Interesting that they excluded people with diabetes or high blood pressure from the trial. A very mixed set of results. It is available on t'internet for you to look at.

Statins are a poison for elderly women especially as all the recent epidemiological research shows that as we age we need our cholesterol and those with higher cholesterol live longer and live better. It protects us from infections and is essential in our brains. The only people that have ever benefited ( and that is marginal ) from statins in first prevention ie people who have not had a heart attack are middle aged men. And even this is according to RCTs conducted by the pharmaceutical industry who refuse to allow the raw data to be studied independently. Since the conduct of clinical trials was tightened up in the early noughties no trial for statins has been able to show the "miracle drug " results of the trials conducted before. Wonder why not? There is Japanese research showing that statins are implicated not just in diabetes but in congestive heart failure. Well it's the last thing someone who has enlarged atria due to afib should be taking.

Bawdy in reply to jeanjeannie50

I have taken them for a short period with very high cholesterol, family history of this, I'm under weight, have had two angiograms, arteries are clear, not nice side effects re joints etc, I would never take them again, I think it's the highest medication prescribed in the world. But that's my thoughts.

I suffered Bad leg pain after just one week of taking them, which is exactly why I came off statins. When I mentioned this leg pain to my EP, and that I felt the urge for GP’s to prescribe statins was lead mainly by a financial incentive from the government, he just gave a wry and knowing smile.

Niki_ in reply to Samazeuilh

I would try lifestyle changes first!

Samazeuilh in reply to Niki_

I think that is probably the approach I will adopt. Not wanting to take the statins would be a good way of getting motivated.

Niki_ in reply to Samazeuilh

I have frequent PVCs .. my echocardiogram was normal.. taking some supplements and eating well controls them a lot! Your health is a motivator for sure!! I try not to take any pharmaceuticals! I feel they are a gateway to health demise ..They wanted me to take a beta blocker but I didn’t feel comfortable with that at 40.. my changes have reduced them like 90% .. food is medicine or poison!

Samazeuilh in reply to Niki_

I think that something like the Mediterranean diet is best for anyone with any sort of heart condition. I try to get vitamins through food as much as possible.

falah12345 in reply to Niki_

May I ask what supplements are you taking fir your PVCs

Niki_ in reply to falah12345

Yes Morning I take ...taurine 1000mg, L-Argininine 1000mg, potassium 99mg or eat a banana

Afternoon I take taurine 1000mg, L-Argininine 1000mg, coQ10 200mg, magnesium citrate 300mg

Evening I take. taurine 1000mg, L-Argininine 1000mg,

falah12345 in reply to Niki_

Thank you for the reply.👍

tunybgur in reply to Samazeuilh

Diet only affects cholesterol in a minor way, your liver makes most of your cholesterol and that's what statins target.Whatever you decide, the experts are pretty much agreed that statins save lives.

Good luck

Auriculaire in reply to tunybgur

There was a huge meta analysis of statin trials and epidemiological studies of those on statins some time ago which showed that in primary prevention the extended life from taking statins was about 4 days and for secondary prevention I think it was a fortnight. Well what's the point of that if you are suffering from muscle pain , diabetes and memory problems? Life quality has to be taken into account.

tunybgur in reply to Auriculaire

A recent independent study carried out over 20 years of Statin use by over 9000 participants came to the following conclusion:

“The study showed that taking statins for 6 years reduced death from cardiovascular disease by 24 percent, and overall mortality by 23 percent.

It's always useful to include a reference as it adds credibility to claims which could otherwise confuse and misinform.

Auriculaire in reply to tunybgur

Is that 24% relative or absolute risk? If this is an RCT it was conducted well before the rules on clinical trials were tightened up and thus its results are suspect. Was it sponsored by the makers of Pravastatin? By the way Pravastatin is the least noxious of the statins but it's use was largely superceded by later ones ( Pravastatin was early so went off patent earlier so no more dosh)

tunybgur in reply to Auriculaire

I don't want to get bogged down in semantics, however I would suggest this would be a mixture as the study is not necessarily just people with proven heart disease, but obviously does have certain age range restrictions.If you follow the reference I included you will see the organisation that undertook the study is completely independent, and the study was published in Nov 2018.

Auriculaire in reply to tunybgur

The article you referenced clearly states that the LIPID study was first published in the NEJM in October 1998. So to be published then it must have been done prior . I have gone to the trouble of looking up the actual study abstract rather than simply referencing an article about it as you have. It quite clearly states that as far as women were concerned the study was underpowered to demonstrate any benefit of Pravastatin . Now this is not semantics - it's fact .

Peony4575 in reply to tunybgur

I think one of the major ways statins act to save lives is by reducing inflammation . Inflammation may turn out to be more important than cholesterol . The biggest killer of people with Rheumatolid arthritis for example is heart disease . Am not on a statin nor am I seeking to win friends and influence people but arguing the pros and cons of statins on cholesterol alone is too simplistic

tunybgur in reply to Peony4575

I'm sure this is part of the answer, but whatever the truth, there are so many entrenched opponents to some meds, statins being just one of them, that you must inform yourself and make your own decisions. Some people have muscular problems with statins, some people imagine them. A recent placebo study showed many of the patients who were given the placebo developed muscle pains, the brain has a huge power over the body.

Although I was very fit and healthy I still had a heart attack 8 years ago, and the only thing I had was high cholesterol. I had to change something otherwise I was likely to have another one, so I take statins and my cholesterol is now down from 6.5 to 4. I am fortunate to have no side effects, and I am happy to have done something to change my numbers.

We all need cholesterol, but not too much, statins don't eliminate cholesterol, they just reduce it in people who have too much.

Personally I think my problems go back to the years before we found out how damaging hydrogenated fats were to our arteries. These fats were everywhere and they are still not banned as they should be, it's a shame some of the anti statin brigade don't put more of their energies into getting these fats completely banned, it will probably have more of an effect on overall cardiovascular mortality.

Good luck

Peony4575 in reply to tunybgur

I agree with you that food and exercise can lay the foundation for much disease . Personally I would take a statin even though my cholesterol is good but I don’t react well to drugs and am at the last stage of getting off beta blockers after a short and unpleasant encounter with those . Am not ruling it out for the future. Everyone is different and you can only make decisions for yourself . Good luck to you too.

scotsrish in reply to tunybgur

In more recent research it shows that not cholestrol but sugar is behind the build up of plaque and statins harden or calcify plaque supposedly making it less likely for little pieces to break away. Simple terms and i do have medical research from top researchers, cardiologists, respected medical journals etc. What i am taking away from what you write is that those that are "anti statin" are the same people who got the placebo and automatic muscle aches began. I like many were prescribed a statin after a heart attack and stents. I like many took the pills and trusted the doctors. I like many before even understanding what a statin was began to suffer horrendous muscle aches seriously affecting my hiking and sleep, constant diarhea leaving me house bound, horrible depression, burning throat and esophogus, memory problems trying to put a simple sentence together etc. These side effects were non existant or minimized by the insert, the cardiologist and the pharmacist. After doing a ton of research i found some very concerning facts from real people and real medical personel. Please do your research as a couple of articles just is not good enough to base your opinion.

tunybgur in reply to scotsrish

Thanks for your comments, all I can say is that I have done a lot of research on this and on every medication I take. One thing is certain, we are all different and can react to meds in different ways, because of this there will be many different and sometimes extreme views.

Good luck

Most lay people who support statins have no idea how statins actually work. I suspect quite alot of docs don't either. The mevalonate pathway in the liver which is responsible for making cholesterol is also responsible for making other substances that have a crucial role to play in the functioning of our bodies. Statins interfere at a point that interrupts the production of these substances as well as cholesterol. Probably the most important of these is Co enzyme Q 10. Given the role of this in providing energy to muscles it is hardly surprising that statins can cause muscle pain. There is a cogent biochemical explanation for why they might. This was recognised by Merck when they brought out their first statin and they took out a patent to include Co Q 10 in the formula. But no other companies were doing this and it would have made the Merck product more expensive so it was never put in. They knew from the get go that muscle pain would be a problem.

tunybgur in reply to Auriculaire

I also take Ubiquinol daily, as should all users of statins as you intimated.

Auriculaire in reply to tunybgur

Wouldn't it be nice if it came as part of your statin pill ? I take Ubiquinol too and wince at the cost of it everytime I order it online.

Auriculaire in reply to tunybgur

That is true but the manufacturers of these hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils were for ages big contributors to bodies like the AHA . They actually endorsed thoroughly unhealthy food choices . One might ask why.For many years the levels of cholesterol have been tested in patients when they present at hospital with MIs. There has been no correlation found between cholesterol levels and MI. The level of total cholesterol considered "normal" or " desirable" was arbitrarily reduced some time ago by a panel of cardiovascular "experts" . The majority on the panel had financial links to pharmaceutical companies who manufacture statins. Epidemiological studies show that as we age we need our cholesterol. It has a protective effect . Those with cholesterol above the magic 5 have less overall mortality including mortality from cardiovascular disease. This is particularly true for women. Even the manufacturers of statins admit that any protective effect ( ie the small benefit they give to middle aged men) they have is not due to cholesterol reduction but probably due to anti inflammatory properties. So why reduce your precious cholesterol?

Spinners in reply to Samazeuilh

My cholesterol tests are also just over 5, but my doctor says that as most of it is 'good cholesterol I don't need to worry about it.

The calculation they use is meant to get as many people on statins as possible and independent analysis of it has shown that it widely exaggerates the risk of heart disease in healthy people . A total cholesterol of 5.14 is barely over the the top of the so called norm ( which again has been manipulated to get as many people on statins as possible). I would resist.

I’m going to ask the doctor to explain his reasoning in a bit more detail and will suggest trying to improve things by diet/lifestyle first. Only if he provides a very strong argument will I take the statins.

It is beyond greedy as now they are trying to push statins on children in the US. Seriously they want to start testing childrens cholestrol.

They would do much better to test their HbA1c and then stop them eating junk food and drinking sodas. But there's no dosh in that. I would not trust any drug company. Every single one of the major players have had judgements against them and been fined billions for lying , cheating and killing people with their products. They are ruthless and have far too much power.

How bloody sad and you are right they have too much power. What is HBA1C?

Glycated haemoglobin. It is a measure of how much glucose the red blood cells have been exposed to over the past 3 months or so and as such is much more accurate than a single fasting glucose which can be affected by all sorts of factors. .

Bye the time we hear a med or product can cause cancer these big pharmas have known for years and still they continue to sell, sell, sell. Johnson and johnson baby powder contained aluminum caused cancer and toxic shock syndrome they knew for years and years. Playtex tampons, aluminum and toxic shock syndrome. Zantac/ Ranitidine cause cancer. Some diabetic drugs cause cancer. The ugly part is that they read off all these horrible side affects to cover their buts then have the gall to lie to the consumer that only 1 in a 10,000 might die or get cancer or suffer irreversible ailments or disfigurement. I remember being put on doxycycline " a very mild and well tolerated antibiotic that some even take everyday for acne". First had red blotches than blisters on my skin then shortness of breath and more in less than a week. The clinic said don't just quit come see your doctor next week. The pharmacy said get off now you are having a severe reaction. I now have scarring from the blisters. The bigger the company the more lawyers. They are pretty much untouchable by the average person. Anybody ever hear of a kid genius scientist named Jack Arkansas who won awards for discovering test paper like litmus that could diagnose pancreatic cancer and lung cancer with over 95 % accuracy at age 15. Big pharma tried to buy his silence and stop anyone from funding his research. The university tried to protect him but it was clear they too were being threatened by big pharma. He is probably near 30 now and could only get research money from Cuba?

You are absolutely right. The number of prosecutions and fines over the years show that all they care about is making money. They spend more money on advertising and lobbying than research and development. For 30+ years FQ antibiotics have been poisoning people and ruining their lives. The FDA and EMA brought out new guidance for their use a few years ago but new floxies are still appearing on forums having been prescribed them by useless doctors who believe the drug company propaganda rather than follow the new guidelines to not use them for trivial infections. And now they are giving them to covid patients! Adding insult to injury. The symptoms of long covid are eerily similar to those of being floxed. How many of the victims were given an FQ as a prophylactic antibiotic for pneumonia?

scotsrish in reply to scotsrish

Sorry the name is Jack Andraka the 15 yr old genius who's discovery is also mentioned in the Smithsonian Magazine


Here in UK having the cholesterol/statins conversation with patients is one of the QOF (Quality outcome framework) subjects which guarantee doctors' income. I had it with my doctor but she admitted she couldn't force me to take them and having had the conversation she had ticked the box. Life style is important.

Samazeuilh in reply to BobD

That’s interesting. We like to think that doctors are taking decisions in our best medical interest when they may simply be following the latest directive.

Buffafly in reply to Samazeuilh

My previous GP was almost disappointed when she tested my blood and found my cholesterol level was low 🙄

scotsrish in reply to Samazeuilh

I remember asking my doctor show me the proof of the research done with women and show me the proof that cholestrol causes plaque and heart attacks...he could not. I said show me the unbiased ! tests showing that the blood marker that they use to put you on statins even if you have ok LDL is one of the markers to show you will have a heart attack...he could not. I have tried Crestor, Lipitor and Ezetimbe with horrible side effects from all three. I had a heart attack which led to two stents but i am normally an active woman who is slim and eats well. The truth is i could exercise and eat alot better which to me is the better choice than ending up crippled with muscle pains and diabetic.

the risks far outweigh the benefits so I do not advise anyone to take statins..

That is the nub. There is no proof that cholesterol causes heart attacks. The proof that it doesn't is that the predecessors to statins - the fibrates -were extremely successful at reducing cholesterol but had no effect whatsover on reducing cardivascular events. The drug manufacturers themselves admit that it is the anti inflammatory effects of statins that probably reduce deaths ( marginally) but there are lots of anti inflammatory substances that one could take that are far less noxious. The whole fat/ cholesterol /heart attack hypothesis is rubbish from the very start with that cheating bastard Ancel Keynes and his cherry picked 7 countries study. France carefully excuded because though among the highest consumers of saturated fat they had the lowest level of heart disease. Red wine and garlic anyone?

Seriously Auri i am fairly sure why i had a heart attack then two stents and would appreciate any feedback as you are a very wise and learned woman. I had my uterus removed in the 90's but two years ago because of tumors they removed my tubes and ovaries i am now 67 and received no hormone advice or prescription. I could feel and see harsh differences right away. Depression, anxiety, dry skin, wrinkles over night something was very wrong but the doctor said i didn't need hormones. I live in canada and have been trying to get information but none so far. I am told hormones should have been given especially estrogen to lessen my chances of heart attack but now that i have had one i am told it is dangerous. I know my body and i need hormones but my doctor is so uninformed. Any feedback or advice on where to go for some appreciated.

I had a total hysterectomy in 2000 when I was 48. I had been on combined HRT before for a misdiagnosed early menopause ( no blood hormone levels taken ). Actually I was suffering from an undiagnosed hypothyroidism ( GP did not know how to read thyroid panel correctly) and when the womb was examined it was riddled with a type of endometriosis that stays within the walls - which explained my appalling periods. Usually if you only have your uterus removed the ovaries will go on producing some oestrogen but tail off due to natural menopause. Sometimes the removal of the uterus damages the ovaries so that they pack up quicker. As you noticed the abrupt change only at the age of 65 when you had the ovaries removed is it possible that your tumours were oestrogen producing ones? I think it is unlikely you will be able to get any HRT from conventional gynocologists. The consensus is that HRT should be given at menopause or directly following a total hysterectomy but not started later on in the sixties. You could try an alternative practitioner. You could also get your thyroid checked out as all the symptoms you describe can be caused by hypothyroidism as well. Have you been given any anti oestrogen meds ? How old were you when you had the heart attack? My overall impression from fellow members of a forum for floxies I participate in is that the health service in Canada is pretty bad.

Thank you for your reply. Here they only check the tsh for thyroid and if that is out of whack then they test the t4. The problem is our tests and how broad it still is between too low or high tsh. I know my tsh has gone down quite a bit and the doctor said my thyroid is on the way out but it is still within range. I had my heart attack and the stents April 2020, unfortunately i like many women was sent home with gerd from the ER and went back in the next morning still in pain and short of breath. They left me for hours alone until an ER doctor saw me and i was flown emergency to a cardiac hospital. I am lucky to be alive but now because of them have heart damage. I was just reading how the liver will pump out more cholestrol if you are short on estrogen. I think i will see a naturapath thank you for the suggestion.

That's appalling. I was reading a review of a book by somebody called Maya Dusenbery about how badly women are treated by the medical profession compared to men. The range for TSH is still too broad. I remember reading about this 20years ago when my hypothyroidism was eventually diagnosed - seven years after the first test where TSH was just out of range but free T4 below range: the low T4 should have been a red flag to my GP but of course she only looked at the marginally raised TSH and told me there was nothing wrong with my thyroid. I believe she said that they were discouraged from treating till TSH had reached 10! Luckily the hospital doc who had ordered the tests told her I should be treated ( it was 7.5) .I have never lost the weight I piled on during that 7 years. There has been very little change in the TSH range since then. If your thyroid is on the way out it should be treated . Why should you have to suffer until some magic number is reached. It still makes my blood boil! I would be more inclined to get the thyroid fixed and see if that improves things. Symptoms of low thyroid and low oestrogen can be very similar - I was misdiagnosed because of this.

They are following NICE directives. Having said that there was a big outcry from many doctors over the last directive from NICE which increased statin roll out to people who had very a minor chance of developing heart disease. Letters to the BMJ complaining that they were the people who were seeing the problems statins were causing in their patients.

But many directives are there to guide general doctors (who have to know too much in general practice), to point them to cover risk areas. Wouldn’t we be cross if they “ignored directives” which could help us? I am saddened by the cynicism in the thread. I think there is a nuanced debate to be had about statins (I declined them).

CDreamer in reply to Samazeuilh

Correct. My GP and I go through this charade every year - we are doing the C question so I can tick the box - she says. My total cholesterol is high hovering around 7. My ratio HDL:LDL though is excellent and my triglycerides are also well within range for my age.

This year they have taken a different approach sending me the statistical information which shows that out of 100 people 15 people will go on to have heart attack or stroke having taken statins for 10 years. Mmmmmm. Still didn’t convince me. Statistics are just that numbers and no one can predict what will or won’t happen to you.

At the bottom of the letter it was left to me to contact them if I wanted to discuss. A much more sensible approach in my view, less time wasting for both of us.

Interestingly I changed to a LCHF diet and my cholesterol has gone down.

I talked to one of our GP’s who has done some research on statins who told me that in their opinion, any statistical significance in lowering MI or stroke was probably due to the effect statins have in lowering inflammation rather than cholesterol which is such an inprecise way of calculating risk.

If you want to discuss with very knowledgeable people may I suggest you look at the Cholesterol Forum, those guys know what they are talking about and I learned a lot.

I would say unless you have Familial High Cholesterol, lifestyle changes are the way to go. I also used plant sterols for a short time to bring my cholesterol down when it did start to rise a little alarmingly, soon brought it back down again, where it has stayed.

CDreamer in reply to CDreamer

PS - if you followed the advice of low fat diet, which was still doing the rounds until quite recently - you find people buying things like low fat yogurt and spreads etc. Now fat gives us taste - remove the fat and one of the biggest conundrums is what to replace it with - oh of course - sugar and salt and chemicals - Mmmmmm. I wonder why diabetes suddenly became a problem?

Statins are a nuanced debate and there is a case for prescribing for some people but on this one I’m with Auriculare and BobD.

Auriculaire in reply to CDreamer

Too much sugar tends to lead to high triglycerides. There is actually a higher correlation between high triglycerides and heart disease than there is with either total or LDL cholesterol but an even greater correlation with Hba1c which over a certain level is a marker for diabetes. So why are doctors not being directed by NICE to test their patients regularly for the latter? Not only might it indicate better their risk for heart disease it is also a much better test for diabetes than fasting glucose . So 2 birds with one stone. Now a cynical person might say it was because no nice little earner miracle drug would get either of those down just good old fashioned free lifestyle changes. Vive Yudkin!

Hi I’m swimming against the tide here but I would not discount taking statins. I stated them 4 years ago having lost weight and changed my diet / lifestyle quite a lot to reduce my blood lipids. but still had 5 ‘s as the first number of my total cholesterol. I take 1 tab of atavorstatin a day and my cholesterol is now 3. Something. Which makes me happy.

It is not a substitute for lifestyle changes but works in addition to reduce total cholesterol.

( for me) there have been good results and zero side effects I can identify.

All of us with afib are very “ heart aware” and I was pleased when a CT scan showed the cardiac blood supply in v good condition . I think lowered cholesterol helps that.

Side effects are very individual you may get them but many do not. Primary effects ( in this case lowered cholesterol) generally happen to all that take a drug. So if you are concerned about high cholesterol statins will help you reduce it


Jmc43 in reply to Sfhmgusa

I too will swim against the tide. About 15 years ago, my cholesterol level was climbing into the very high area. I did life style changes and it made a little dent but was still high. My doctor was quite rightly concerned given my father and mother both died in their mid-70’s from cardio vascular problems. So I started taking Atorvastin, and very shortly, the cholesterol had lowered to very safe levels. I had (or have) no side effects. Got tested every 6 months for three years for potential kidney or liver issues, and there were none. I am now 77 and while I have Afib, the cardiovascular blood flow has been good. Had an ablation last July which so far has been successful. I should add that both my brothers are on statins also, and one is 84 and the other is 81. I think exercise and food changes plus the statin has made a big positive difference in our lives. I realize this is a small sample size, and we are all males, but I thought I would add this experience into the mix.

I fought for ages not to take statins on the understanding my 'bad' cholesterol was ok. I was then told my 'good' cholesterol was too high, apparently also bad for you 😠I now have raised blood sugar levels and it looks like I'm borderline diabetic (I posted earlier this week) the doctor is phoning this afternoon and I will be having a discussion about this. In the meantime more research on the good,' cholesterol problems. I think they maybe preferable to diabetes

First time I have heard the argument that good cholesterol is too high . Makes me suspicious. What are your triglycerides like?

Prior to my second (and hopefully final) ablation, my cardiologist asked about my family history and on the basis that my father had a quadruple heart bypass at 70, I was sent for an angiogram. Found 80 to 90 percent blockage of my LAD which couldn't be stented due to the location of the blockage. My cholesterol levels were always around the 6.9 mark and no matter that I'm fit, good diet, BMI etc. I could never get it lower. I've now been on 40mg Atorvastatin for over two years, cholesterol down to 4 with absolutely no side effects, no sign of diabetes. As all the male lineage in my family have all died of strokes, I'm more than happy continuing with the statin (and the Rivaroxaban). Good luck whichever way you choose,

.I was advised to take CoQ10 along with my statin as there seems to be some evidence this might reduce the risk of muscle-related side effects.

Samazeuilh in reply to Lamadre

Thanks to everyone who has replied on this thread. There are so many replies that if I were to thank everyone individually it would clog up the whole group. I have read all of the replies and found them very interesting.

I think statins can be appropriate/worth the risk when you have a relevant co-morbidity and the patient prefers to follow doctor's orders rather than an alternative approach. My wife takes one as she had a mild stroke last year & just like's to follow the doc's scrip.

On the other hand I have had a cholesterol level steady & averaging 6.5 for 20+ years, eat a full fat diet and have clear arteries (heart & carotid) and apart from an AF history have no other significant medical issues. There is therefore no way I will take statins at present.

My father and both brothers suffered heart attacks. My cholesterol was 6.6 at the time. Diet changes reduced that to 5.9, ie about 10%. With the combination of family history, AF and cholesterol I agreed to start statins as being a reasonable course of action. Now cholesterol is down to 3.5-4.0.

A recent heart scans show just a very minor build up, so I have to be thankful for taking statin for over a decade has worked for me. No heart attack.

Although I've had AF for well over 20 years, no operations have been necessary.

I have not had any side effects from the statin (Atorvastatin).

Hope my experience helps you.

I was placed on Statins over 10 years ago, because I had very high cholesterol, a few years later I was in so much pain with my leg muscles and very bad muscle cramps, so went to see the doctor, changed to another one, the same happened, and again tried another one, but by this time I became a diabetic. I have not taken Statins since, even though my cholesterol is a little high, but I am still a diabetic. My bmi is just under 25. What I didn't realize was that high cholesterol runs in the family both sides, and we all have a halo around our pupils, so it is hereditary in my family.

Peony4575 in reply to Pita

I knew a family who all had the cholesterol haloes around their irises . None of the family had cardiovascular disease and the parents died of cancer in their late eighties. The “children” are alive and healthy in their sixties . I think there must be more to it than cholesterol levels

Pita in reply to Peony4575

Hi Peony4575 , unfortunately, I have heart conditions including heart disease, this also is hereditary also cancer too, I have just finished chemo for the 2nd time in 10 years, we (consultants) are very hopeful that I will make a full recovery.

Peony4575 in reply to Pita

Sorry to hear that . I hope you do make a full recovery you have a lot to put up with

Statins ? In a word crap statins cause more problems than they are worth. Muscle spasms hair loss acid reflux could go on ....

My cholesterol was at 5.4 immediately after my heart attack and it does drop when you have a heart attack so my cardiologist put me on statins. I completely changed my lifestyle, exercise regularly and eat much more fruit and veg although I still eat red meat. I take statins and my cholesterol is now at 2.2. I don’t know if it’s the statins or a combination of the 2 but I feel safer knowing it’s helping so would say take them if the doctor has recommended it and just keep an eye on anything abnormal.

Mine was 7.2 and l said to the doctor that l’d try go get it down myself. I’m not overweight, do a lot of exercise , and have a pretty good diet (most of the time). So I ate very healthily and kept up the exercise for a month and when it was checked again, the level was 7.5! The doc said that it is sometimes hereditary, and given my family history, this has happened to me. Have been on Simvastatin for six years now, and have been fine on it. Made no difference to AF whatsoever, nor to anything else.

san_ray70 in reply to Cha275rL

My husband has AF and he is on statins. I am also and I have an under active thyroid. My doctor told me my high cholestrol was hereditary. When the doctor tells you to take pills he must feel you need them. I do not like any pills, but I take them to keep healthy. We have not had any problems with statins.

Cha275rL in reply to san_ray70

Yes I agree. Don’t like taking pills either but needs must. I have an under active thyroid too, but, again, you need pills for that, or you wouldn’t feel very clever, so we just have to get on with it I think.

Hi samazeuilh I remember 10 years ago when I turned 50 I was going to get my cholesterol levels checked well that morning before I went I had read an article saying to be aware that when you turn 50 that your gp will offer you statins and sure enough i was offered statins which i declined reason been that my father took them and also developed cataracts diabetes muscle pain dementia weakness as i was his carer i started to read up on statins and the studies relating all appeared flawed to me and considering the pharmaceutical companies goal of making money I try my best not to go down that route my gp continually offers statins to me and I am hoping I've made the right decision not to take them sometimes I think we need to be proactive and try to do what's necessary for our health exercise diet etc pills can have terrible side effects and may take years to develope but please make your own informed choice we all only have opinions

Samazeuilh in reply to Tomred

It’s a difficult decision. I think that the type of statin may also be significant from what I have read.

Tomred in reply to Samazeuilh

Maybe you should take a look at an interview on you tube with Dr stefanie Seneff before making up your mind very enlightening

scotsrish in reply to Tomred

I too hope but feel pretty confident in not trying anymore statins. If i had a dollar for every person i have heard say they take statins and have eaten whatever they want no problem, i would take a trip (after covid of course). I don' t just read any article about statins but i do see the prejudice and blatant opportunities in some of these "studies" that are funded by the pharmaceutical companies..endorced by Doctors, universities and sponsored research all benefiting financially from big pharma.

Definitely give diet a go.

A few years ago I reduced my cholesterol from 8.9 down to 3.9 over 12 months with a completely plant based diet. I had previously been vegetarian but with a high full fat dairy intake.

My brother in law achieved very similar results reducing his cholesterol levels by just cutting out all dairy.

All i can add is that out of the millions taking statins the percentage of people who get any side affects are very very low. Just give them a try and see what happens, the benefits of taking statins if you need to is very high compared to not taking them.

scotsrish in reply to ACC107

I agree if you are a heart patient with clogged arteries and high cholestrol to give it a try but you should be more aware of unbiased research that shows very few if any women were used in the studies or research and that the truth is women suffer with the side effects much more than males and their chances of getting diabetes is close to 50 %

Your doctor is surely following the NHS NICE guidelines which, naturally, can be trusted. However, since you are worried, I would phone for personalised advice, asking why a level of 5 needs treating. There are several kinds of cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream, some good (removing fat deposits) and some bad (causing fat deposits). You may have too much of the wrong ones?

It's worth keeping in mind that statins are given to slow down atherosclerosis (aka furred up arteries). This has plenty of its own side effects, which is why statins are widely prescribed and so generally useful.

Most people take statins and don't even know they are taking them. The incidence of side effects is extremely low. Some people experience side effects on statins because they expect to get them (


I had a stroke last Christmas and was put on Avorvastatin 40mg. as a matter of routine in the hospital, since then my blood sugars have increased , look at the diabetes website to see how many of the drugs we are on cause raised sugar levels! My cholesterol was 5.4 and level for years and none of my doctor's suggested I needed statins. I've not had any side effects but I'd like to be able to reduce the dosage as I don't like taking drugs uneccessarily.

Just remembered that my husband had a 70 year old check and there was no problem with anything. Then the doctor checked the score and said he should take statins. Apparently they recommend that all older people should take stations. He tried them, but was worried as one of the side effects is weak muscles, and he already struggles as he had a stroke as a child and has developed severe scoliosis now he is older. So he no longer takes them.

I am really interested in your post. I had my test results a few months ago, results as follows.

The first two columns are from the NHS website.

Result and Healthy level (My results are in brackets)

Total cholesterol 5 or below (5.3)

HDL (good cholesterol) 1 or above (2.79)

LDL (bad cholesterol) 3 or below (2.3)

Non-HDL (bad cholesterol) 4 or below (2.5)

Triglycerides 2.3 or below (.48)

Additionally my Serum cholesterol/HDL ratio 1.9 (not mentioned on the NHS website).

My doctor said my results were very good but the table indicated I should be on statins, that I was at risk from a stroke in the next ten years. I questioned this and so did she, and we discussed the alternative to statins. So I have started taking 1600 mg plant sterols to see if I can lower (given the NHS healthy levels) the total cholesterol. I will test again in a few months to see if there is a difference.

I am reluctant to add more medication to my daily total if I can help it.

What I have been told is that it is not necessarily an individual result (even if it is a bit outside the normal range) which is important for a clinical decision, but how the different results relate to each other, e.g. two or three results, even if they are all within normal range, might still prompt a decision to put a patient on statins. They use a special calculator for this, but I don’t know if it’s online.

This might be the calculator:

So I entered my details and my risk was shown as 17 percent in the next ten years. I took out AF and that lowered it to 8 percent. So all the results do relate to each other. Think I will carry on with the sterols for the time being. Thank you for that.

There has been independent assessment of this qrisk calculator which shows that the risk has been exaggerated and in real life is much smaller. But the key question is whether lowering your cholesterol will actually reduce your risk of stroke given that you are presumably anticoagulated.

Thank you for this; I have done a lot of research and am feeling a wee bit confused! It's ongoing and thank you for your comments. How's that hip bearing up? Been thinking about you.

I'm making progress . I got up the stairs ok when we got home though I haven't been down again. We live on the first floor as the downstairs is for guests. The weather is awful so I am not inclined to walk outside. I trawl round the island unit in the kitchen on my sticks. I am walking more normally now . It is less painful apart from the morning stiffness from lying on my back all night. I've tried on the side with the pillow between my legs but it is even less comfortable. The junkie gold - Tramadol - really helps cut the pain but I am limiting myself to one a day. It does make me somnolent so a lot of dozing. The quads strengthening exercises are very painful. Have a great Christmas.

You are doing all the right things. Have a happy and safe Christmas!

Some of the old dancer's discipline still active. Joyeuses Fêtes!

I remember reading some time ago about how plant sterols were produced. I don't remember the details just thinking that it was disgusting and I would never take them. The only reason the table indicates you should be on statins is that your excellent level of good cholesterol is pushing up your total cholesterol to above the magic cut off point of 5. The more important marker for heart disease is the triglycerides and yours are excellent. This whole cholesterol statin stuff is a scam to make money for the pharmaceutical companies. Even your doctor admitted your results were very good . What is there to fix?

I think it is fair to ask us to learn all we can and be informed, but I don’t think it is helpful to be so definite in your judgment “whole cholesterol stuff is a scam..” You have evidently done lots of research but none of us are members medical advisors.

What most people fail to understand is that there is a big difference between medicine and science. Scientific research into how the body works takes ages to filter down into actual medical practice . The "medical consensus" is upheld and basically only changes as those who stick to outdated and often plain wrong theories die and are replaced by those who don't hold these views. You only have to look at the history of medicine to see this at work. In the 17th and 18th century it was the norm for doctors to poison their patients with mercury and arsenic. There are many medical doctors who are questioning the thoroughly unscientific saturated fat/cholesterol model of heart disease and unmasking the nonsense arguments that have maintained this over the last 70 years. But (and this is an enormous but) the doctors who maintain this theory are backed with the money of the drug companies. It is not just my judgement that this whole cholesterol stuff is a scam. It is the judgement of many doctors throughout the world even up to professor level. Medical advisors are not gods and are certainly not infallible humans. As a person who has been literally poisoned by prescription drugs I would suggest people question what they are being prescribed especially if it seems suspect ie" your results are good but the table says" . There is a contradiction here . This might be an uncomfortable way of operating for many if not most people who naturally prefer to trust their doctors. Both the editors of the BMJ and the NEJM ( the most prestigious medical journals in the world) have stated that the bulk of medical reserch that is published today cannot be trusted due to the overwhelming corruptive influence of the pharmaceutical industry. To me that gives food for thought and reinforces my determination not to blindly accept "doctor's orders".

You make good points but in a strident way, as if no one else can think for themselves.

Sorry. I have a reputation in my family for being tactless!

tunybgur in reply to Auriculaire

Well deserved by the look of it....

Mrsvemb in reply to irene75359

My husband and I both managed to reduce our total cholesterol by one point by taking plant sterols. Definitely worth a try.

Tomred in reply to irene75359

Hi I've been taking 2400mg of plant sterols since November 2018 daily as recommended amount to lower cholesterol my reading at start was 6.8 1 year later 5.8 7 months later5.68 having said this my diet was not by any means ideal regular fast food as always on the go so I reckon with diet modifications I could be lower score on my next test good luck

I have been taking statins for about 12 years without any problems. I guess with any medication, there are those for, and those against.

We need cholesterol for our brains and other organs. I've read extensively about it over the years. There are many reputable authors out there who have written about it. I would neither attempt to lower my cholesterol by diet or drugs. It's where it is for a reason. I'm not scared of it. I'm scared of how the drugs companies bought the medics into prescribing them to everyone.

If cholesterol rises, get a full thyroid blood panel done. If the FT3 is below 40% through the reference range then consider that might be your problem. They used to diagnose hypothyroidism by cholesterol levels in the past.

I was diagnosed with under active thyroid when I re married 15 years ago. I started taking symvastatin about 6 years ago, my husband was diagnosed with A.F. a couple of years ago. We are both on statins and apart from old age aches and pains, we are fairly fit.

Tomred in reply to san_ray70

Are they old age aches and pains or staten induced

san_ray70 in reply to Tomred

When I last went to see my doctor I was diagnosed with a "BAKERS CYSYT" I was referred to a physio. obviously I could not go personally because of the first wave of C.19. Since then I was sent some exercises to do, if I do these my leg feels better. Over Xmas I forgot my exercises, so my Knee pain is back. Also sat about too much, I will try to get back to walking more.

Absolutely. As I pointed out to Maddigran there are doctors up to professor level throughout the world who are debunking the "cholesterol is dangerous " rubbish. My first GP here in France suggested a statin when my total and LDL cholesterol crept over the top of the normal range - despite the fact that my HDL level was excellent. I told her that there was no way I was taking the statin and the only thing I would contemplate was upping my thyroid meds. My present GP does not bother to order tests to measure my cholesterol any more. Either because he knows I won't take a statin or because he's one of the docs who doesn't believe the consensus. My cardiologist has never bothered about it either. He is a man with a very off putting manner but I have clung firmly onto him because he is not a drug pusher type!

The good level of cholesterol has gone down over the years. When statins first came in I was offered them but having heard all the conflicting reports about them decided not to take them. My then healthy husband decided to the contrary. Apart from losing his libido he now has Type 2 diabetes and has had to have a pacemaker fitted. He still takes the statins. Hmmmm?

2 friends & I we’re talking & finds out all 3 of us had been asked to go on statins!We all refused!

This is an epidemic, in the UK

I am a Yorkshireman living in Florida & when I told my doctor here, about the statins, he says, O NO!


Took a blood sample & said is there’s a problem, he would be in touch, never did.

Do yourself a favor & get, The complete guide to fasting, changed my life

I was put on a 80g dose of Atorvastatin three and a half years ago, following heart failure and the 'discovery' of AF. Managed to have this reduced to 40mg after eighteen months after realising just how high a dose this was. I then unilaterally reduced my dose to 20mg daily about a year ago as part of a general desire to reduce my pharmaceutical load, as I was experiencing both leg muscle pain and a curious loss of memory - facts that I knew that I knew, I couldn't trawl up when completing the general knowledge crossword, for example.Both these conditions / side effects improved markedly and I have weaned myself off the statin completely now. I confessed my actions to my cardio consultant in a recent telephone meeting and he wasn't horrified but suggested they arrange an echo and a 24 hour monitor, just to see what state my heart is in now. I feel considerably stronger and basically without any symptoms of AF or HF apart from a very little breathlessness on hot days walking up hills. I play golf two or three days a week, and know that I am much less tired at the end than I was, even carrying my bag for 18 holes / four hours last week following heavy rain. I'm awaiting results but hope / expect to be able to stay off the statin and probably the Bisoprolol 10mg, Candesartan 16mg, and Eplerenone 50mg too. But the Rivaroxaban stays!

There is an interesting book written by Duane Graveline who was an astronaut and a doctor at NASA - Lipitor Thief of Memory. It is about his experience on lipitor and how it provoked a condition known as total transient amnesia where suddenly you can forget everything about recent events. He also explains in the book how along with interfering in the production of Co enzyme Q10 statins interfere with the production other essential chemicals that are produced on the same metabolic pathway in the liver that produces cholesterol - including dolichols which are crucial in brain function.

That is interesting. I suddenly realised that simple facts, names etc that were known to me just couldn't be summoned up from memory quickly. I didn't feel that my capacity was declining, I'm a fit 67 year old, but almost as soon as I abandoned the statin my recall improved noticeably. I am a lot sharper now! Glad you raised this issue, I'm sure others will be thinking too, now

If people have been put on statins and appear to have no side effects and are happy on them I do not wish to dissuade them from taking them. But I do want to provide ammo to those who are reluctant to take them. It seems to me that the way many docs act with regard to statins is entirely formulaic and box ticking rather than really thinking about what would be best for theor patients. This is a predictable consequence of the one size fits all medicine that seems to be the norm these days.

You are not just producing ammo Auriculaire, you are telling others they are wrong. And you are generalising negatively about medics and (IMHO) and don’t you think that may encourage cynicism rather than curiousity? My GP talked me through statins and the mixed evidence and I declined. Same (for months, until I weakened) with Apixaban. She was behind the curve on ablations but so are many consultants. She was proactive in discovering a different genetic disease.

Maybe you were lucky. But considering how a lot of people here complain about their GPs ( and on forums for other health conditions) your experience might not be the norm. We are formed by our experiences and medically I have had some very negative ones. I have also had positive ones - mainly surgery. And if I believe someone's proposals are wrong in the light of what I have read I will say so. Nobody has to take any notice of my opinion. There are other people on this forum who take the same view on the cholesterol/statin debate. If you look back in my posts you will find one where I relate an experience with a high up executive in a pharmaceutical company showing complete cynicism about one of their products - desensitising injections which had provoked asthma. Cynicism on the part of the patient is not always a negative emotion but can be protective.

Happy people rarely post on health sites! I know a lot of people who are very happy with their care, I don’t think I am a minority. But yes, drugs can be over hyped and often folk misled, but equally true of alternative practitioners. I am appalled at how little evidence folk seek.

Background alert - family history of naturopaths and “healers” who were sometimes just annoyingly opinionated but harmlesss but sometimes made themselves and others very ill (and were impossible to live with) and I worked in NHS most of my life in mental health where meds horribly over used but also often mistakenly avoided.

My step daughter was a mental health nurse. She also became mentally ill , was in and out of hospital for many years and eventually managed to hang herself in the hospital while under suicide watch. She was only 39.

I am so sorry

I have since adopted my step granddaughter as she wanted another Mum and I had no children of my own so that has brought a lot of joy.

Tomred in reply to Auriculaire

I agree one size does not fit all there are some drs especially naturopathic who will recommend doses depending on bodyweight I can imagine someone at 400 lbs needing more of any meds than someone whos 150lbs

I take Atorvastatin, with no side effects. They are supposed to protect you from heart attack and stroke. Some GP's will prescribe them if you are at risk of either, even if cholesterol low as a safety measure.

DGET1 in reply to DGET1

Also, as a nurse I have come across many pts who take statins, who have perfectly normal cholesterol,but have family history of heart disease, so GP's put them on statins prophylactically.

Samazeuilh in reply to DGET1

Is there a particular type of statin which is safer than others? The doctor wants me to take 20mg of atorvastatin.

My GP says Atorvastatin is the most effective.

As I recall, it's been found that the optimum benefit of statins for the heart occurs in the young, and when the meds are mixed with confectionary. There was a study published,

Candy Statin: Young Hearts Run Fee.

Oh Goosebumps, none of my words to you were said in a rude way, only in a kind tone. I'm sorry to hear that you saw them as being that way. On no account should anyone respond rudely on this forum. If that's the way mine came across then I humbly apologize.


Got told I needed them the end of last year, argued for ten mins with the nurse why I needed them with a 4.6 score on the door ! Took them for five days and suffered bad leg pains and cramps, read up a little on the whole statin debate, liver risks etc, and found nothing that convinced me they actually had anything to offer me . Declined to take them and now get the lecture every time I attend for blood tests etc about why I should, at 55 I'm happy to continue with diet and exercise changed I've made and take my chances, one less drug to take imo. Its just too easy for doctors to throw one more tablet into the mix with drug company incentives at the middle of some decisions.

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