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Published:March 21st, 2010 09:55 EST
Statins, Cholesterol, and Heart Disease

Statins, Cholesterol, and Heart Disease

By Ernest Dempsey

Statins are popular cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs prescribed for patients with high cholesterol levels, which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Lipitor, Zocor, Lipex, Crestor, Torvast, and Lipostat are some of the more popular statin brands, prescribed currently for high-cholesterol conditions. Over the past two decades, statins have become one of the best-selling drugs in the pharmaceutical history. In fact, a few doctors even suggested starting to use them in drinking water. About 36 million Americans currently seek statin drugs. But some health experts have seriously questioned the harmful side effects of statins and cautioned against its use.



 How Statins Work?


Statins work by preventing the production of cholesterol from an organic molecule called mevalonate. Mevalonate is produced by the action of an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. Statins inhibit this enzyme from producing mevalonate and, thereby, blocking the pathway of cholesterol production. By cutting the bad cholesterol, the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), statins are claimed to lower the risk of heart disease by as much as 60%.  


Effectiveness of Statins


A number of studies, referred to in Dr. Rodger Murphree`s book Heart Disease: What Your Doctor Won`t Tell You, have found that using statins has no significant impact on the mortality rate of patients suffering from heart disease. Such patients were found to have a lower risk of dying by only 1.1 percent than those who didn`t use statins. One study also found that using statins offers little or no help in preventing the buildup of plaque in arteries. Yet another study by the Honolulu Heart Program, published in 2001, also concluded that people with low serum-cholesterol levels are at an even greater risk of death in their elderly years.       


Side Effects


Muscle pain and weakness are the most commonly reported side effects associated with regular statin use. These result due to the depletion of a pro-muscle nutrient, called CoQ10, by statins. In severe cases, this condition can grow into a fatal muscle-wasting condition called rhabdomyolysis. Amnesia (memory loss), fatigue, dizziness, and depression are other common side effects resulting from statin use. Quite a few studies also claim a connection between statins and cancer as well as congestive heart failure.


Shall Patients Take Statins?


The opinion is divided here. Most doctors think it safe for patients of high cholesterol to take statins, especially those having cholesterol levels above 200. However, a number of health professionals have questioned the prescription of statins for extended usage. They consider it safe to control cholesterol by diet and natural means and to practice a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease rather than risking their health to stains and other prescription drugs.      


To learn more about heart diseases and medicine, visit Dr. Rodger Murphree`s website