Cholesterol Levels and Statin Drugs
August 14, 2007
- On CNN this morning they
said "that a study funded by Bristol-Myers indicates it is
safe to prescribe statins to children as young as 8 years old if they
are predisposed to having high cholesterol."
Did you know the drug manufacturers have a goal to get a large part of the population on statins before a certain date in this decade?
Did you know that drug companies are publicity traded corporations that MUST make money for their stockholders? They are in the business of making money by selling drugs and we have witnessed the barrage of advertisement on television, and how it has increased over the years. Younger people do not know there was a time without drug advertisement on television. We have accepted it as normal, much like a breakfast cereal or car advertisement.
Did you know
that the drug companies, not independent research, reset the "standards"
for cholesterol levels? This are now changed from what has been considered
normal at 200, to way below that number and even advise physicians
to put people on statins if your cholesterol level hovers around 200?!!
And what is the biggest muscle in the body? ........it is your HEART. The terrible pain people suffer when being on a statin drug like Lipator is from Co-Q-10 depletion. Ask your pharmacist for a print out of all the info on your stain drug. Get on the internet and run searches for the adverse reactions to statins or Lipator, join discussion lists and hear first hand the pain and suffering people go through, when it is not necessary!
I am not a physician, but I am a smart lady and can read labels and research, and am a firm believer of being your own health advocate, for you, your family and pets. To show you what lengths the drug companies go to in order to make a higher profit, I had a drug rep tell me that the manufacturers of statin drugs have a goal of getting at least one third of the population on statin drugs by a specific date- again, you will note all the ads on television. I understand in extreme cases there is a need for statins on a temporarily basis, even Dr. Steven Sinatra, a top cardiologist will tell you that, but there are other ways to handle cholesterol levels naturally without having to take these debilitating drugs.
Below I have an article, it is an example of yet another way to make even more profit off of the statin drugs. This is a new article from WebMD -the internet site. I have given full credit to the author and website. Now they are promoting Lipator to prevent strokes! At this rate none of the baby-boomers will live long enough or have the physical strength, thanks to statins, to enjoy the resources they have amassed to enjoy their golden years! Welcome to the new age of "marketing", it is done under the guise of research for the purpose of high profits for drug companies.
To purchase quality Co-Q-10 go to www.FirstChoiceNaturals.com
My Alternative To Statins - This is the program we are on at my home to keep cholesteral levels and blood pressure normal.
Editorial comment: They have found another way to market statin drugs.
Statin Lowered Second Stroke Risk by 16%
By Salynn Boyles - WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Louise Chang on Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Aug. 9, 2006 -- Stroke patients can reduce their risk of having a second stroke by taking high doses of a widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug, even if they don't have heart disease, according to a new study.
Researchers say the findings from the five-year, international trial, make it clear that aggressive treatment to lower cholesterol should be considered standard therapy for stroke prevention in people who have already had a stroke.
Patients who took 80 milligrams of the drug Lipitor each day for five years saw a 16% reduction in having another stroke compared with patients who took a placebo. Patients on the cholesterol-lowering drug also experienced a 35% reduction in serious cardiac events.
The study -- called the SPARCL trial -- was funded by Lipitor manufacturer Pfizer, Inc. Pfizer is a WebMD sponsor.
Each year an estimated 15 million people worldwide suffer strokes, and 10 million will either die or remain permanently disabled as a result.
Aggressive cholesterol lowering with statin drugs (such as Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, or Mevacor) is routinely recommended for patients who have had heart attacks and for those who have a very high risk for heart disease, such as people with diabetes.
But it has not been clear if lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol is as beneficial for reducing risk in stroke patients without heart disease.
In an effort to answer this question, investigators recruited 4,731 recent stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack or "ministroke") patients with no history of heart disease. About 60% of participants were men, and the average age was about 63 years old.
The trial included patients treated at sites in Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. All of the patients had experienced either a stroke or TIA within the previous six months. Patients were followed for an average of five years.
Most of the patients were already being treated with aspirin or blood thinners (94%), and roughly two out of three were on blood-pressure-lowering drugs. The included participants had LDL levels from 100 mg/dl to no more than 190 mg/dl. Half the patients in the trial also took 80 milligrams of Lipitor every day and half took a placebo.
After five years of treatment, 265 of the 2,365 patients on Lipitor (11.2%) had had a fatal or nonfatal stroke, compared with 311 of the 2,366 patients (13.1%) who took a placebo.
The overall death rate was similar in the two groups, but significantly fewer patients taking Lipitor had heart attacks.
The study results appear in the Aug. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Benefits vs. Risks
Chicago neurologist K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, who led the investigation, tells WebMD that the findings argue in favor of adding high-dose Lipitor to the regimen of drugs routinely recommended for stroke patients.
"The risk following a first stroke is very high, with 40% of patients having a second stroke within five years," he says.
Because the study included only Lipitor and is the first statin trial to include only stroke patients, Welch says it is not clear if other statin drugs would work as well to lower the risk of secondary stroke and heart attack in this population.
David M. Kent, MD, agrees that the study provides compelling evidence that most stroke patients should be placed on a statin.
But he tells WebMD that the SPARCL trial left many questions unanswered about the benefits vs. the risks of such treatment for specific patient groups.
Kent is an assistant professor of medicine specializing in health policy research at the Tufts-New England Medicine Center in Boston.
It is not clear, for example, if patients who have had strokes caused by the rupture of an artery within the brain benefit from the treatment, he says.
About one in five stroke patients has this type of stroke, known as a hemorrhagic stroke. Most patients have ischemic strokes, which are caused by a clot within an artery in the brain.
"I think it is clear that the default position should be to start patients who have had ischemic strokes on a statin, but this is not clear for hemorrhagic stroke patients," Kent says. Kent notes in his editorial that statins have anticlotting effects and that there was an increased risk for patients in the Lipitor group to have a hemorrhagic stroke.
Unanswered questions aside, Kent says the biggest threat for stroke patients is not overtreatment with a statin, but undertreatment. He makes the point in an editorial accompanying the study.
"In one recent study, even among [hospitalized stroke] patients who were eligible for statin therapy only a third had discharge medications that included statins," he wrote.
SOURCES: New England Journal of Medicine, Aug. 10, 2006; vol 336: pp. 549-559. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, president and CEO, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Chicago. David M. Kent, MD, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts- New England Medical Center, Boston.© 2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
Negative Effects of Statins:
1). The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics - http://www.thincs.org/
2). Concerned Scientists Dispute New Cholesterol-Lowering Guidelines; Statin Drug Treatment Carries Great Risk, Few Benefits http://www.thincs.org//pressrelease82004.htm
3) Smart Money - The Wall Street Journal - November 2003 - The Lipator Dilemma by Eleanor Laise.
"New cholesterol guidelines
for converting healthy people into patients"
In the May 16 issue (2001) of the Journal of the American Medical Association an expert panel from the National Cholesterol Education Program has published new guidelines for "the detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol" (read the paper). Their writing seems to be an attempt to put most of mankind on cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs. To do that, they have increased the number of risk factors that demands preventive measures, and expanded the limits for the previous ones.
But not only does the panel exaggerate the risk of coronary disease and the relevance of high cholesterol, it also ignores a wealth of contradictory evidence. The panel statements reveal that its members have little clinical experience and lack basic knowledge of the medical literature, or worse, they ignore or misquote all studies that are contrary to their view.
Here come a few examples of the panels false statements.
As an argument for using cholesterol-lowering drugs the panel claims that twenty percent of patients with coronary heart disease have a new heart attack after ten years. But to reach that number any minor symptom without clinical significance is included.
Most people survive even a major heart attack, many with few or no symptoms after recovery. What matters is how many die and this is much less than twenty percent.
The panel also recommends cholesterol-lowering drugs to all diabetics above 20, and to people with the metabolic syndrome. If you have at least three of the "risk factors" mentioned below, you are suffering from the metabolic syndrome:
Risk factor - Limits according to the NCEP expert panel
Test yourself and your family! I guess that using these limits, most of you "suffer" from the metabolic syndrome. And this new combination of risk factors, says the panel, conveys a similar risk for future heart disease as for people who already have coronary heart disease.
Luckily, it is not true.
It is not true either, that cholesterol has a strong power to predict the risk of a heart attack in men above 65. In the 30 year follow-up of the Framingham population for instance, high cholesterol was not predictive at all after the age of forty-seven, and those whose cholesterol went down had the highest risk of having a heart attack! To cite the Framingham authors: For each 1 mg/dl drop of cholesterol there was an 11 % increase in coronary and total mortality (115).
It is not true either, that high cholesterol is a strong, independent predictor for other individuals.
In most studies of women and of patients who already have had a heart attack, high cholesterol has little predictive power, if any at all.
In a large study of Canadian men high cholesterol did not predict a heart attack, not even after 12 years, and in Russia, low, not high cholesterol level, is associated with future heart attacks (read summary of paper)
Most studies have shown that high cholesterol is a very weak risk factor or no risk factor at all for old people; see for instance the paper by Schatz et al., but there are many more. Considering that more than 90% of all cardiovascular deaths occur in people above 60, this fact should have stopped the cholesterol campaign years ago.
Also interesting is the fact, that in some families with the highest cholesterol levels ever seen in human beings, so-called familial hypercholesterolemia, the individuals do not get a heart attack more often than ordinary people, and they live just as long (read the paper and my comment).
Taken together such observations strongly suggest that high cholesterol is only a risk marker, a factor that is secondary to the real cause of coronary heart disease. It is just as logical to lower cholesterol to prevent a heart attack, as to lower an elevated body temperature to combat an underlying infection or cancer.
It has also escaped the panels attention that the effect of the new cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins, goes beyond a lowering of cholesterol. The question is whether their cholesterol-lowering effect has any importance at all because the statins exert their effect whether cholesterol goes down a little or whether it goes down very much.
No doubt, the statins lower the risk of dying from a heart attack, at least in patients who already have had one, but the size of the effect is unimpressive. In one of the experiments for instance, the CARE trial, the odds of escaping death from a heart attack in five years for a patient with manifest heart disease was 94.3 %, which improved to 95.4 % with statin treatment
For healthy people with high cholesterol the effect is even smaller. The WOSCOPS trial studied that category of people and here the figures were 98.4 % and 98.8 %, respectively.
In the scientific papers and in the drug advertisements these small effects are translated to relative effect. In the mentioned WOSCOPS trial for instance, it is said that the mortality was lowered by 25 %, because the difference between a mortality of 1.6 % in the control group and 1.2 % in the treatment group is 25 %.
When presented with accurate statistics on the value of statins, almost all my patients have rejected such treatment. To claim that the statins dramatically reduce a persons risk for CHD, as was stated in the press by Claude Lenfant, the director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is a misuse of the English language.
The figures above do not take into account possible side effects of the treatment. In most animal experiments the statins, as well as most other cholesterol-lowering drugs, produce cancer (see reference 90), and they may do it in human beings also.
In one of the statin trials there were 13 cases of breast cancer in the group treated vid pravastatin (Pravachol®), but only one case in the untreated control group, a scaring fact that is never mentioned in the advertisements or the guidelines.
It is also an alarming fact that in one of the largest experiments, the EXCEL trial, total mortality after just one year's treatment with lovastatin (Mevacor®) was significantly higher among those receiving statin treatment. Unfortunately (or happily?) the trial was stopped before further observations could be made.
In human beings the effects of cancer-producing chemicals are not seen before the passage of decades. If the statins produce cancer in human beings, their small positive effect may eventually be transformed to a much larger negative one, because side effects usually appear in much higher percentages than the small positive ones noted in the trials.
Whereas possible serious side effects of the statins are hypothetical, those from the previous cholesterol-lowering drugs, still recommended by the panel, are real. Taking all experiments together, mortality from heart disease after treatment with these drugs was unchanged and total mortality increased, a fact that has given researchers outside the National Cholesterol Education Program and the American Heart Association much reason for concern.
The panels dietary recommendations represent the seventh major change since 1961. For instance, the original advice from the American Heart Association to eat as much polyunsaturated fat as possible has been reduced successively to the present up to ten per cent.
But why this limit? Seven years ago the main author of the new guidelines, Professor Scott Grundy, suggested an upper limit of only seven per cent, because, as he argued, an excess of polyunsaturated fat is toxic to the immune system and stimulates cancer growth in experimental animals and may also provoke gall stones in human beings. These warnings have never reached the public.
Furthermore, the panel ignores that a recent systematic review of all studies concerning the link between dietary fat and heart disease found no evidence that a manipulation of dietary fat has any effect on the development of atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease (read summary of the paper -this paper won the Skrabanek Award 1998).
For instance, in a large number of studies, including the incredible number of more than 150,000 individuals, none of them found the predicted pattern of dietary fats in patients with heart disease.
No supportive association has been found either between the fat consumption pattern and the degree of atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis) after death.
Most important, the mortality from heart disease and from all causes was unchanged in nine trials with more radical changes of dietary fat than ever suggested by the National Cholesterol Education Program, a result that was confirmed recently in another review (read the paper and my comment).
To suggest that diabetic patients should obtain more than 50 percent of their caloric intake from carbohydrates seems unusually bad advice. Many carbohydrates are quickly transformed into sugar inducing rapid changes in blood sugar and insulin levels and thus stimulating a rapid conversion of blood sugar to depot fat and chronic feelings of hunger. Diabetic patients should eat more fat.
Is it a coincidence that the Americans decreasing intake of fat during the last decade has been followed by a steady increase of their mean body weight and an epidemic increase of diabetes?
Instead of preventing cardiovascular disease the new guidelines may increase the mortality of other diseases, transform healthy individuals into unhappy hypochondriacs obsessed with the chemical composition of their food and their blood, reduce the income of producers of animal fat, undermine the art of cuisine, destroy the joy of eating, and divert health care money from the sick and the poor to the rich and the healthy. The only winners are the drug and imitation food industry and the researchers that they support.