It’s no secret that I despise statin drugs.
Well, let me rephrase that. Like most pharmaceuticals, they have a place in healthcare. But certainly not to the extent that they’re used in this country. Doctors in the U.S. dispense statins like candy. It’s outrageous and completely irresponsible. Yet somehow, we just accept it as standard operating procedure.
So as you can imagine, I perked right up when I came across a recent report comparing U.S. and European statin guidelines.
Here in the States, we’ve lowered our statin eligibility standards dramatically in recent years. As a result, pretty much everyone who might at some point face the slightest increase in future heart disease risk has a prescription thrown their way.
I can’t help but wonder who sponsored or lobbied for those guidelines. Especially when you consider the fact that the clinical research on the benefits of statins for otherwise healthy patients is inconclusive, at best.
Just this morning, I had a patient come in with a total cholesterol level of 111. And we’re not talking about a patient with a naturally low level. He’d been taking statins for some time. And I was shocked to find out he was still taking them. Believe it or not, some doctor actually thought it was prudent to continue statin treatment despite having artificially depressed this patient’s cholesterol to these insane levels. (For the record, research shows that levels lower than 160 significantly increase your risk of depression, stroke, cancer, and even death.)
Of course, I immediately recommended that he stop the drug. How he even managed to function is a mystery to me. But, sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve found myself in a situation like this. Not by a long shot.
But I don’t consider myself to be some kind of rebel. Because as the new study I mentioned shows, my reservations about statins are perfectly typical…at least, for a European doctor.
This study took place from 2014 to 2015. It featured more than 7,000 older patients between the ages of 45 and 75, none of whom had heart disease upon initial examinations. Nevertheless, U.S. guidelines would have recommended statin treatment in nearly 60 percent of these patients.
But according to European Statin Committee (ESC) guidelines, only 33 percent would have received a statin script. That’s right — roughly half as many.
We use more medication in the United States — that much is clear. But we don’t have better health outcomes to show for it. What we do have, however, is the added public health burden that this unnecessary reliance on statins carries with it.
Especially when you’re talking about starting younger and younger patients on statin medications. In some cases, they could be taking these drugs for next 40 or 50 years. You can’t just ignore statins’ dangerous side effects for that long. When “prevention” comes with this many risks, it’s really not prevention at all. It’s just a different problem.
Plus, we really don’t know what kinds of effects statins will have on the human body when they’re taken for such an extended duration.
While these meds have been the bane of my existence for the last 30 years, most of the actual research on real-life patients has only covered results over the course of five or 10 years of use, max.
Are you willing to do an unsanctioned experiment with your health? I know I’m not.
Bottom line: Statins come with some serious risks — and there may be even more that we aren’t yet aware of. So the fact that cardiologists in this country would just as soon add them to the water supply isn’t just a difference of opinion. It’s outright dangerous.
Clearly, this is a conversation that every potential statin candidate or current statin user needs to have with their physician. Don’t be afraid to ask bluntly whether or not you really need these drugs — or whether it’s safe to stop if you’re currently taking them.
And if you have any reason whatsoever to doubt your doctor’s judgment, I urge you to seek a second opinion from a new doctor who shares your values when it comes to effective disease prevention.
Because there are still some of us who understand that the best way to beat heart disease is to eat right, keep moving, manage your weight, supplement intelligently… and use heavy duty, potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals only as a last resort.
For detailed advice on preventing heart disease naturally, check out my report The World’s Easiest Heart Disease Cure.