Statins -should I have accepted when offered? What would others do?

Two months ago I had a routine cholesterol test and the dr was happy enough with the results [total 6.6; HDL 2.8*; ratio 2.4; se non HDL 3.8] although she thought the total was rather high she said the LDL [se non HDL?] of 3.8 and the ratio were fine. The HDL of 2.8* she thought OK too. My routine check up for hypertension today saw the usual white coat reading of 180/80 whereas the home BP readings of the past 8 days was a more reasonable 121/75.

I am an active and healthy 73 yr female and hate the idea of risking side effects in order to comply with a tick box culture dreamt up by NICE and Rory collins. I do not have diabetes or any other long term condition other than hypertension, neither do I have a family history of heart problems. However my Qrisk is now 15.4% and the dr offered me a statin as I expected. If pharma companies and Rory Collins were more honest about side effects I would trust them better. As it is, without good cause I do not wish to accept a statin merely to comply with NICE's directive of offering them to all risks over 10%. I feel strongly that the NHS likes to make patients out of well people and on principle I do not like that. anyway I like to have a grapefruit for breakfast which is a no-no with a statin I think.

Before my last birthday with my risk a little less than now, the same dr said she did not believe in over medicating the whole population yet with my risk now of 15.4% she presumably had to bring the subject up again. I'm fortunate in having a dr who listens unlike many I've heard of who have a tendency to 'Do as I say, we know what is good for you' attitude. My feeling also is that the medical profession have to comply with NICE and a load of tick box numbers and also they are all afraid of legislation if something goes wrong.

So rant over! Question is, what would anyone else have done ? Accepted a statin or not ?

47 Replies

  • Hi there Gardengnome. I am a 57 year old woman, who had a total cholesterol of 6.9 mol/L. I agree with all you say about Nice and not making patients out of well people. All the research papers I've read about women and statins suggest that for someone your age, with no cardiac incident already, statins have very little effect on mortality. I got my total down by 1mmol/L by reducing sugar and increasing exercise.

    Of course it is absolutely your choice. I wish I could find the link to the research, but I can't at the moment. I will look again and if I find it will post it for you.

  • You are clearly someone who knows her own mind :-) The rush to foist statins on everyone is disturbing, and, in my view, needs to be looked at thoroughly. I have been on statins since my heart attack, despite having an acceptable cholesterol level. In fact, 6 months after my heart attack my cardiologist admitted that they did not even know my cholesterol level, and had never done any test to find out what it was. So, you are right to be cautious about this 'cure all' wonder drug. I have a simple way of deciding these things for myself. If I dont absolutely need to take a drug then I will not take it. And by 'absolute need', I mean just that - not that they think it might be good for me. Statins are toxic - you are right to be wary. You need to be satisfied of the absolute need for you to take them. On the other hand, dont just reject them because of bad publicity either. For many people they are working very well and keeping them healthier that they might otherwise be. In the end, you must decide for yourself based on the information given to you for your situation and health condition.

  • I think you made a good call. You can always revisit the decision in a year or two's time subject to routine testing. I've been in statins for nine years (I'm 46 now), but am reading an increasing amount of literature that says there is little hard evidence to show they actually prolong lifespan. I've not experienced side effects, but on a personal note, I do miss grapefruit!

  • I think eating grapefruit alongside taking a statin does not apply to all statins; it depends which one you are on. I attended a lecture at Wythenshawe Hospital last November & remember this issue being discussed. If my memory serves me correctly the statin which should not be taken with grapefruit is simvastatin. I am on rosuvastatin & was told this was OK.

  • Please read the information on this link:

  • I am a 72 year old female, with many health and heart problems. Only took statin years ago, for a very short time. It did not suit me, lots of pains in my legs. Research has moved on and it looks like statins are not a good idea for women, in fact we stand a better chance of living longer than those who take a statin. Years ago when statins first came out I read an article in readers digest, whilst waiting for the dentist - it said we would live two weeks longer if we took a statin, recent research says 4 days! When Drs. Health officials ask me why I don't take statins - I reply that I don't wish to take poison.They end the conversation there.

  • Not forgetting... Statins have been linked to diabetic blood glucose!

  • You can achieve better results through a whole food plant based diet and avoid the needs for meds in most cases. Some interesting works include Dr Caldwell Esselstyn. Have a read and make your own mind up - perhaps a compromise lies in there somewhere.

    Good luck.

  • I agree 100%, DJ100! Also look at Dr Joel Fuhrman and a new book by Dr T Colin Campbell Ph.D called "Whole". Good luck with it all.

  • Hi Gardengnome, I've done the same as you, utterly refused to take statins. I brought my cholesterol down by eating oats whereever possible and increasing my good fats (rapeseed oil) to make sure I ate more than the bad fats. It worked. When I went back for a second test result the Dr said "I don't know why you have come back" (because I was told to) The Dr didn't expect my levels to drop so much I reckon!

  • Hi Gardengnome, I have been taking statins for about three years. I'm very active and gradually I noticed my joints becoming increasingly achey. Didn't link this to drugs and thought, bugger getting old (I'm 67). Eventually my research led to side effects of statins and I told my GP I'm coming off. She said a statin holiday wasn't a bad idea and to come back 2 months later.

    Well it's now three months and my legs don't ache at all and I feel ten years younger. So no more stastins and GP is happy. I intend to get my cholesterol checked say every 6 months and use this as a determiner of whether action is required or not. If I do need to lower it I will try every other non-drug option before going back to statins.

    You are your own best advocate! Best of luck.


  • I attended the conference, led by Dr. Paul Miller, at Wythenshawe Hospital last Wednesday & I think he said that the only statin not recommended being taken alongside grapefruit was simvastatin. I am sure somebody will correct me if I am mistaken. If I were in your shoes I wouldn't worry too much about taking a statin or not. You could try one for 3 months or so to see if you had any side effects & also check your blood results to see if the statins had made any difference. Alternatively, you could try a Benecol drink each day (these work well for me & are pleasant to taste). Armed with the knowledge from these alternatives, you will probably be able to reach your own conclusion.

  • I think that's mistaken. Here's the leaflet from the Lipitor (atorvastatin) box that says "Do not take more than one or two small glasses of grapefruit juice per day because large quantities of grapefruit juice can change the effects of Lipitor"

  • I don't get your point because this is saying that 1 or 2 small glasses per day are acceptable. Why would anyone want to drink more than this at breakfast? Gardengnome 1942 says she likes a grapefruit at breakfast, which is presumably no more than 1/2 small glasses of juice.

  • I was just pointing out that grapefruit consumption is still restricted with atorvastatin, although Pfizer are being annoyingly vague again - it depends how big the glasses are! There's no restriction listed with either pravastatin or rosuvastatin.

  • Great advice, Floozie.

  • I had a coronary artery test in August and came out as high risk. The cardiologist said I should get my LDL down to 2.00 it is 2.6 at the moment. Through this Forum I heard about Dr Esselstyn's and have been following his method for six weeks. I had a blood test a week ago and should get the result soon. Will post on here what the result is. A vegan no oil diet seems a bit extreme but have got used to it, only hope it is doing the trick. I see DJ100 and Chas B refer to this method.

  • I am 65yrs and do not want to take Statins. Having read all I can about them led me to this decision. My Doctor is not happy with me and when I asked for another cholesterol test some 3 months later, she said if I am not taking the statins there is no point having a test as I am not actively trying to lower my count.

    I also had high blood pressure for the first time in my life but unless I ask when I visit the surgery for other things they never suggest I have my pressure taken either.

    Its like being treated as a naughty schoolchild.

  • Some drs are so arrogant, how dare they treat patients like naughty school children! Was your BP high enough to require medication and if so did they give you a 24 hr monitor? After I was diagnosed with high BP I bought myself a monitor of my own as in the surgery it was always sky high.

  • No I was not given any medication for my BP but you have reminded me that a month ago the Doctor said she would arrange for me to have a 24 hour monitor but I have heard nothing since

  • Thanks you all for your replies and so interesting to see that you feel much the same as I do about national statinisation. When my GP first offered me a statin several months ago I asked her whether if she were me would she take one. She said No, she wouldn't, and didn't approve of NICE recommending them for everyone with a Qrisk of over 10%. She did say it was different if one had suffered a cardiac event or a stroke and insisted that heart attacks were lower today than some years ago, presumably she thought thanks to statins.

    Now my cholesterol has raised my Qrisk to 15.4% she seems to think I should take one but accepts that I don't want one. She even wrote on my notes that I was very anti statin! At least that is true!!

    A statin would lower the cholesterol but to what advantage?

    A 75 yr old T2 diabetic man I know who was fit and well, non smoker and slim, was of course on statins and had severe pain in his legs which severely compromised him. The dr did change the brand of statin and the pain disappeared but no comment was made. Less said the better I suppose..

  • The QRISK for a "typical healthy" 74-year-old white female is 18.1%, so at 15.3%, you're doing well. No, I probably wouldn't take a statin at that value, but I've FH so they're told not to use QRISK anyway... not that that stopped a previous GP trying to use it as a reason not to refer me to a lipid clinic when I was having problems...

    I suspect statins are being overused but some of us with FH seem to have little alternative. Even diet and lifestyle changes plus a cocktail of non-statin drugs seems not enough to reduce the risk, but it's hard to know while we don't have tools like QRISK for the FH subset.

  • Also feet pains

  • I was told that feet pains can also be caused by statins as again it is the cramping of the muscles just as in the leg, mainly calf in my case. My foot cramps / pains reduced once I came off simavastatin. This is exacerbated if there are underlying conditions as well. Obviously other things can contribute / cause.

  • May be you need a blood test for potassium level.

    Medication A + Medication b can give a lot of problems.

    Low carbohydrate levels?


  • There is lots of cholesterol diet information on They also have a helpline 0345 450 5988. Cholesterol increases with age, especially for post menopausal women. Statins are needed for some people but diet and lifestyle is still important whether on statins or not!! There are plenty of research papers demonstrating that statins work and are safe - there are very few people that are truly intolerant. There are a number of statins to try - so if you do experience side effects you could try a different one first.

    There are also foods that will help reduce cholesterol level too. Again HEART UK - the cholesterol charity will be able to help with that and lots more besides.

  • You know what - I no longer believe all this cholesterol brainwashing that is shoved down our throats by the likes of heart UK, Flora, Benecol, Prof Rory Statin et al. It is becoming like the climate change police which brooks no argument or dissent. We all need cholesterol for every cell in our bodies to function: without it we would die.

    I'm more and more convinced that fuelled by NICE and their ridiculously low 'Qrisk percentages' and the litiginous world we live in today, drs are forced to do as they are told instead of actually treating each patient as an individual - this is just tick box doctoring, not proper medicine. Qrisk is after all just another risk and one I feel prepared to go along with. With arthritis in my knee and exercise essential to keep it in check I am not going to risk taking a statin - ever.

    I already have a pretty good lifestyle but at 73 reckon I need my 6.6 total cholesterol. [ratio 2.4] Unless you have had a heart attack or stroke it is lunacy to risk statin side effects.

    If the side effect deniers would publish their results for all to see and if we knew that big pharma weren't funding the research. I might be more inclined to believe them. As it is - if they have nothing to hide then why not publish?

    One day people will look back on this cholesterol nonsense and wonder why on earth we were such suckers for such blackmail.

  • I got my write access back, I have to be very careful in what I say. I am on life style change, food & drinks intake control and regular exercise. Doing part time job ,shift work, standing most on my working time 7 1/2 hours, have lost weight and as no food is allowed during working hours it is helping me.

    Soon will be 69. I had my six monthly blood test done as part of keep an eye on the numbers, I am not going for any medication.

  • Hello Bala, nice to read you again, I missed you - together with some others who I imagine were thrown off the site for speaking some uncomfortable truths. I shall probably be next!

    However it is only with reading and evaluating for myself that I came to the conclusion that I did. I have done all I can to improve life style: I don't smoke, drink very little, eat no added salt, lost weight [BMI <19] and walk briskly every day for about 45 mins.; I live in beautiful countryside so that is no hardship. Having done all that why poison myself with a statin.

    The more I think about it the more angry I feel, that had I not done my research I would have been bullied into taking a statin. Drs know best don't they - well no, not always, they just do as they are told to do by NICE and I am told they receive a cash incentive for every patient put on a statin. [Not sure if that is correct though]

    There is no diabetes or heart problems in the family; the one thing I can't change is my age - 73 and rising! I am healthy as far as I know and with improved diet - I ditched the NHS eatwell plate - I have never felt better and now have fewer sugar crashes mid afternoon. I eat at least 2 eggs a day and butter or olive oil, loads of fruit and veg and plenty of fish. Very occasionally some meat. I never eat flora or benecol, they are margarine after all with some fancy bits added.

  • I'm so saddened that you feel this way. There is plenty of good research to support statin use. It is a Legal requirement for ALL TRIAL RESULTS to be published in the public domain, if they are positive OR negative. Also if big pharma didn't sponsor studies then who would? The NHS?

    Please open your mind. You are so antistatin you may be blinkered. People with FH need drugs whether you like it or not.

    Whichever route you choose I hope you lead a long and happy life

  • Go and by a book called put your heart in your mouth by Natasha Campbell-Mcbride

    That should help you discover that the whole cholesterol myth is a lie....a high cholesterol for women over 60 is fantastic & protective...

    Big Pharma makes about a 600,000,000 dollars a day pushing statins and lies

    Also get yourself a book called how stain drugs lower cholesterol and kill you one cell at a time

  • Thank you simonsimon for reassuring me in my decision. Good to know I'm not the only person thinking this way! And telling me also that a total cholesterol of 60 is fine. [I assume you mean 6.0?] Here in the UK they like a total cholesterol of 4.0 in an ideal world. Most of us don't live in an ideal world!

  • Again saddened to read this. Big pharma do make profits. So do apple and Microsoft. Big pharma also spend millions on developing drugs to treat and sometimes cure illnesses. Open your mind a little and see the balance. Big pharma give free drugs to the third world and enable access for patients turned down by nice. Did you know that too?

  • i meant 60 yrs of age...they lower the threshold every 6yrs anyway to terrify people 5.0 6.0 its all utter rubbish.Your brain is a big blob of fatty cholesterol which thrives on fat...could it be that the explosion of alzheimer's today is the result of telling the population for 50 yrs that fat is bad when in fact it's vital.when sunlight comes into contact with your skin it penetrates and converts cholesterol into vitamin D....Your liver regulates cholesterol so you don't need to think about it...if you eat an enormous slab of butter your cholesterol goes up by 0.002...more or less....its all complete crap...

  • Thank you very much for this info simonsimon. Very, very interesting

  • I've tried about six statins. They all made me dizzy and the last one almost gave me a stroke. It also began damaging my liver. When someone begins statins they are supposed to have their cholesterol checked every two months to see if its working. When they check it they're suppose to check your liver for any damage. One woman told me it gave her sister cirosis of the liver that killed her. Another woman told me it destroyed her mother's legs and she can hardly walk. You have to be Very careful with them. There's as natural statin called Red Yeast Rice that comes from China. You can't take it with statins.When you go from one to the other you have to leave two weeks and you only take it for 2 to 3 months on then one month off and still have to have your liver checked every two months. Niacinamide-vitamin B-3 is also good for cholesterol and it's suppose to be good for depression too. Let me know what happens! Good luck.

  • Be careful with Red Yeast Rice, it can have the same side effects as conventional statins.

  • Red Yeast rice is a statin. It's lovastatin. It's just from a plant source.

  • Golly, Joseph1 that sounds a grim tale. if all that is really due to statins they should be avoided like the plague. How was cirrhosis of the liver put down to statins do you think? I always thought it was due to alcohol?

  • Hi, your cholesterol profile is very good.

    The Qrisk score is almost certainly associated with your age, as age is one of the factors taken into account.

    In your position I wouldn't take a statin, but I think the important thing is that you go with your own gut feeling - which seems to be against taking a statin. It's an individual decision really. To look at it another way, your QRISK means there is an 85% chance you WON'T have a heart attack in the next 10 years.

  • That's a more positive way of looking at it i don't believe it, sounds much better than 15% likely to have a heart attack :)

  • I wrote a few weeks ago and mentioned that I had a coronary artery test and came out as high risk with four arteries affected. After four weeks on the Dr. Esselstyn's diet my cholesterol went from 4.9 to 3,6 and my LDL went from 2,7 to 1.5. The cardiologist advised me to get my LDL to 2.00 or below. I had been on 20mg of Simvastatin which after the test I increased to 40mg, fortunately I seem to tolerate statins ok but if I can maintain these low readings I would like to decrease the statin. The diet seems extreme but I have now been on it nine weeks and find it ok. It would obviously be easier if my husband was on it as well but as he is low risk there is no hope of that. Patrick Holford seems to advocate the same diet but adds oily fish three times a week,

  • When are you or your cardiologist planning on another "coronary artery test " test?

    Your cholesterol has come down but the four attires that are affected needs to be cleared. The diet you are on helping you in so many ways. Preparing two different meals can be a problem, we have the same in our family two out of three meals are very different!

    Would be interesting to find out if you have come down to "low risk"?

    Do you do any regular exercise? Have read that both food intake control and regular exercise can help.

  • Hi bala

    Thank you for your comments. Had an appointment with NHS cardiologist on Thursday and have waited for this appointment before replying to you. First thing he said was for me to have an angiogram. I was hoping he would have the machine to look at the CD from my CT scan to see for himself how my arteries looked but no joy there. He said what was the reading 20% etc. In the end it was decided for me to have a stress test first but he felt sure the outcome would be an angiogram and then stents! I spoke to the Lifespan people again and it seems all four of my arteries are heavily blocked but blood must be getting through to my heart as I have no breathlessness or chest pain. I assume this diet is going to take some time to have any effect on my arteries if any. It seems there is a six month wait on the NHS to have a scan. I go to the gym three times a week and exercise for 45 minutes on treadmill and cross trainer and swim for ten. Keep active with housework and gardening. Feel I am sitting on a time bomb though. Look forward to your comments and more about you if possible!

  • Holford tends to advocate a low-glycaemic load diet, that tends to lower insulin/IGF-1 levels; these lowered levels improve lipid profiles, reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Holford does not have the same aversion to natural fats either.

  • You can try them. Be Very, Very careful. After you begin taking them they are suppose to take a blood test to check your cholesterol and at the same time check your liver to see if it's damaging it. They worked very good on my cholesterol but I had to stop because they began damaging my liver and one almost gave me a stroke. One woman told me they destroyed her sister's liver and it killed her. Another woman told me they destroyed her mother's legs and she can hardly walk now. So be very, very careful and keep checking it. There are other things some pharmaceutical and some not that you can take. Keep in touch!

  • It may interest you to know statistics show that half the folks who get heart attacks have NORMAL cholesterol. So, to what extent is cholesterol responsible for blocked arteries and heart attack? It is more complex than that and has something to do with level of inflammation in our systems. Breaches on the inner surface of the arteries start to accumulate plaque. Anti-inflammatory agents like Omega 3 etc., apparently help in reducing inflammation. Recently on this site someone recorded benefits from Niacin (B3 Vitamin). I agree with all your misgivings....the failing trust we, the public the world over, have in the whole of the pharma industry and its "propaganda"? Best to ask your GP more questions and partner with her/him in treating your particular situation. Any "science" which is based on "statistical correlation" is prone to errors when it comes to specific persons and their biochemical-hormonal-genetic individuality. These "tools" being used in engineering, medicine, geography, meteorology ...... are popular but probabilistic-ally they may be right but for some specific situations they fail....and you or I can be that exception. Each 'Body-Mind-Environment-Gene' is unique. Statistical medicine may deliver cost efficient, but not individually tailored, medical care. Our illnesses are results of very complex and subtle activities in our body (I think) and really a GP who knows you (your system) well is the one to stick to. You have found one it seems. I also have benefited from my research into my conditions so that I can have meaningful conversation with my health provider.

    I titrate my dosage of Metformin and Statins on a "just enough" basis to keep my Ha1C and Lipids within range - with my supportive young GP. If I fall short....I increase my exercise routine. Together we have formed a team.

    Best of luck.

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