My hypothesis on the merits of statin therapy is as follows:-

Do statins reduce serum cholesterol?

Is cholesterol instrumental in the clogging up of arteries?

Do blocked arteries (atherosclerosis) lead to heart attacks/strokes?

Having answered in the affirmative to all 3 questions, which people benefit from taking them?

Those with abnormally high serum cholesterol (genetic causes)

Those with significant family history of cardiovascular disease.

Those with a past medical history of cardiovascular disease.

It is surely logical, therefore, for people within these groups to take statins, since they are extremely efficient in reducing serum cholesterol levels. People with genetic hypercholesterolaemia for instance (like myself) will not be able to to reduce their cholesterol level to within normal limits by diet alone, and nothing has proved to be more effective in lowering cholesterol levels in these patients than statins (as told to me by my lipid consultant). Unfortunately many people refuse to try statins because of the very bad press they receive, and if they do decide to evaluate them & subsequently develop aches & pains, etc., they immediately attribute these symptoms to statins, when there could well be a different cause. I wonder, also, whether there might be some psychological overlay amongst the statin sceptics due to adverse publicity. Many people fear muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) which can be due to statin therapy, but this is extremely rare and is easily detected by regular screening of the CK level in a simple blood test. All drugs run the risk of side effects, but unless you actually try a drug yourself, you will not know whether you can tolerate it or not. 40 years ago the general public had never heard of cholesterol, never mind lipoproteins, and, whilst it is good to be aware, I do feel a lot of anxiety has been created by the media. This publicity has also exacerbated the pressure to continually attain lower & lower cholesterol levels. In the 1970s & 1980s the upper limit of normal serum cholesterol was 7.2 mmol/l. Nowadays, everyone is urged to reduce it to well below 5 mmol/l, which can be very stressful. Ultimately, when considering whether to take statins (if these drugs are indicated & advised) a risk assessment needs to be employed to ensure that the dangers of not taking them are outweighed by the benefits of doing so.

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8 Replies

  • I fully agree with you.

  • Did anyone see the interview with the Heart Surgeon on BBC Breakfast earlier in the week? Interesting! He stated that including saturated fat in your diet does not contribute to heart disease. That it was the sugars and over indulgence of carbohydrates that caused the problems. Sounds familiar!

  • It 's a complicated subject. Statins seem to be prescribed too often for people who are not in the at-risk categories you describe.

    It has been suggested that it is possible to reduce atherosclerosis by reducing the amount of sugar/carbohydrates in the diet, as this damages the artery walls and raises the level of the damaging dense small LDL particles. This may help people who do not have a genetic problem.

    I found this article on atherosclerosis very informative.

  • Thanks for your reply Traci. I appreciate what you say & it's good to hear that someone in your position agrees wholeheartedly. I don't think it will trigger much response though, because what I have written is not opinion, but proven facts which are not open to debate.

  • In science, proven facts should always be open for debate. Our understanding of human biochemistry and health has changed enormously over the years, and medical approaches have changed with increased knowledge.

    Why do some people with low cholesterol or who are taking statins still have heart attacks?

    Can raising HDL levels be beneficial?

  • have you watched this and the following

  • Thank you for such a comforting information on statins, I am one of those familial hypercholesterolaemia whose cholesterol levels are always 8 - 9 until I take statins and they reduce it to 6. I take Atoravastatin 10mg very reluctantly, as you say, due to bad press. my doctor tried all sorts of things for the first six months, making me lose weight, diet and exercise which didnt budget the levels an was the same after six months. all my sisters have high cholesterol and one is 40 kg! and hardly eats.

    I stopped statins due to imaginary aches and pains for a month and went to check and it went up from 6 to 9! my doctor said since this is hereditary, there is no other choice, though he reduced the dose from 20 to 10mg.

    so your article certainly gave me comfort that due to my cholesterol levels which is hereditary, it is important to reduce it by statins to cut the heart diseases in half.

    so thank you so much for being honest and neutral - this may reduce the bad press which makes most of us not taking it, hence increasing dangers of heart diseases.

    Bless you.

  • Thank you for your reply naina123. I presume, because of your family history & your raised cholesterol, that you are being seen in a specialised clinic & if not, please ask your GP to refer you. You are entitled to do this. An addition to a statin in patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia, can be ezetimibe, which should reduce the cholesterol level by a further 10-15%. I take 10mg. of this drug daily, along with rosuvastatin 40mg. & this regime works for me. I have also recently added one small Benecol drink each day (strawberry is my favourite) & this has reduced my levels substantially. It is worth a try, as my pharmacist says it can do no harm.

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