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786 Cholesterol Controversy (Archive)

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click here if you cannot view audio player: BB-786.mp3

Bonus Interview:
Full-length interview of Dr. Nortin Hadler and Dr. Rob Califf debating the value of statins and stents.

click here if you cannot view audio player: Hadler&Califf.mp3

High cholesterol is well known as a risk factor for heart disease. But far too many people are under the impression that taking a medication to lower cholesterol also reduces their risk of dying from an initial heart attack. While all our experts agree that statin-type drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor (simvastatin) are appropriate for a person who has established heart disease, they disagree about the benefits for preventing heart disease in healthy people. Learn how the benefits and risks stack up for people like you.


Guests: Robert Califf, MD, is Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research at Duke University Medical Center and Director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.

Lisa Gill is prescription drug editor for ConsumerReportsHealth.org

Nortin Hadler, MD, MACP, FACR, FACOEM, is professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attending rheumatologist at UNC Hospitals. His books include: The Last Well Person; Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America; and Stabbed in the Back.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. Podcasts can be downloaded for free for six weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Looking forward to this one. I am in that heart disease category (A-Fib and one known blocked artery), but after 10 years of trying I have quit statins. I have tried them all, and I cannot tolerate them. They give me a horrible taste in my mouth (within hours), body aches(takes a few weeks), depression, and memory problems (months for these two). Red Yeast rice gives me the taste and body aches - I did not take it long enough for other side effects to show up.

I hope you can have a segment on what folks in my situation can do. I have gone back to 1500 mg of Niaspan (expensive $2000+ per year) because it can get my HDL up to 60. I also am going back to my weight watcher habits and getting off that 10 pounds that crept back after losing 30 pounds. My cardiologist swears Niaspan is better than OTC Slo-Niacin, but is it and is it worth the extra cost? Any info you have on that would be appreciated. Also trying to cut back on red meat, but recent articles imply processed meats are more of a culprit than red meat.

At one point, my total cholesterol was 320. Eliminating all animal-sourced foods decreased that number 50 points.

Then I started 2.5 g/day of phytosterols, which reduced my LDL by 25% (another 40 points); HDL is unaffected. Phytosterols have no side effects and they appear to be very safe (do a Google scholar search).

(I'm strictly a consumer, and have no financial interest in any company.)

Be sure not to take them with your vitamin D; they have almost identical chemical structures and compete for uptake (voice of experience!).

I hope someone has some more info on the OTC Slo-Niacin as I take Simcor which is nothing but Simvasatin & Niacin---the Simvasatin I can get free as a Generic from my health plan and buy the OTC Slo-Niacin rather than pay $75 a month for the Simcor which I am only taking because my HDL is a bit low but all my other cholesterol are in range.

I also am taking OTC Slo-Niacin [because of problems with various statins] and would like to know how it compares to Niaspan.

Hello, I am a 56 year old woman who never had high LDL. A year ago my total cholesterol was under 200 with a LDL of 100 and HDL 65. Since January I started eating very healthy - lots of salads, fruits and veggies, not much meat at all, hardly any cheese - lots of salmon though.

I joined a gym, boot camp. jog, bike, and work out doing something 6 days a week. I lost 36 pounds. My BMI is in the normal range. My annual physical was last week and my LDL is 147 and HDL 65. I was floored! I asked the doctor if I should go on statins. He said no. My ratio was still okay. I am nervous of the pain because I suffered muscle aches several years ago from BP meds, but what really freaks me out is that my husband suffered a brain stem stroke 5 years ago at 55 years old, and now he lives in a nursing home.

I suffer from PTSD from this and worry that I, too, could have a stroke. No sure what to do if eating right didn't lower it in the first place.

Important Show, thanks! (but then, most are!)

I wonder about Red Yeast Rice? I've experienced some muscle weakness taking it.

LOL the doctor never checked his lipid levels or PSA!

I just caught the end of this program, and was pleasantly surprised to hear there were doctors out there who do not prescribe statins based only on family history and test results. I am curious to find out whose philosophy was it: the cardiologist or the rheumatologist? Guess I'll have to get the podcast.

Altho' I missed the first 10 minutes of this program on Statins, (we have an early Sat. morning time for your program, ie., 7 a.m.) I would have to say, for me, this has been one of the most balanced and informative presentations on the use of this class of drugs. Hearing doctors with opposing views was terrific!!!!!

How I wished I had this information when I was put on statins 4 yrs ago! I was scared, stressed, and ignorant of many facts re: this drug, but most importantly lacked enough information to even ask the right questions. Counseling by medical professionals regarding drug useage is sadly missing, at least in my opinion.

It seems prescribing takes less time, and expediency rules. At the time I trusted my doctor and went with his advice. But that is water under the bridge now, and with the information presented this morning my future decisions regarding on-going use will enhanced by this knowledge.

Your program is an excellent starting point for my own research into continued use. THANK YOU.

Thank you for this informative program. I am a 68 YO male and have been taking 60 mg of Simvastatin for 1 year. My chloresterol has decreased during this time.

During that time I have also had excessive pain in my back, thighs and knees. I mentioned this to my doctor but he feels I should take an asprin and nurse the pain. He also advised a few stretching exercises. The exercise offers some relief but the pain keeps me from the gym and regular exercise. I am therefore experiencing some minor weight gain that seems to make the pain worse.

I am going to stop taking the statin and see what happens. I am not in favor of taking drugs and have avioded taking a statin for many years because the side effects seem worse than a heart attack / death.

Again, thank you for your informative program.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

We're glad your found the program of value. Please discuss your plans with your MD so that there can be good follow-up.

This show came on the heels of a visit to my Cardiologist where we talked about going on a statin for High Cholesterol. My good Cholesterol is 81 which is high. The bad cholesterol is 257. I exercise three times a week and am in very good shape. My high cholesterol is hereditary. I would have appreciated some conversation on that as it is something that cannot be controlled by diet and exercise.

After listening to all the information especially the 1 in 40% of cataract in women, I am going to have a second talk with my Cardiologist before filling the prescription. It is alarming that studies that have been conducted are by in large those done on men.

Are there any thoughts about the treatment of high cholesterol when the condition is hereditary?

My Cardiologist wanted to do a CT scan to detect levels of calcification... is that important when deciding to go on a statin?

DWD, I am in the same worrisome situation that you seem to be. Statins make me ill and cause constant, daily headaches. They affect my vision, too. I have single artery/stent in the diagonal.

Going on a plant based diet and losing weight really lowered my lipids greatly but not as low as they should be to slow or reverse atherosclerosis. The cardiologist recommended Niaspan but it too causes headaches and raises blood glucose.

Some one told me that even too much of the whole grains can raise cholesterol. I do use the Weight Watcher's portions to control even this plant based diet. Very difficult and will listen to this program with interest.

Really enjoyed the radio broadcast! Would someone address the side effects of transglobal amnesia and memory lost as it relates to statin use?

MSW, may I refer you to Dr. Duane Graveline's website, as a former statin user and sufferer of Transient Global Amnesia, he has done a significant amount of research on this topic. His website is www.spacedoc.net

I on the other hand, was on lipitor for almost 4 years, before becoming disabled, due to its effects on my Mitochondrial DNA (actually Mutating the Mitochondrial DNA), as well as the Brain Cell death (Apoptosis) which occurred as well.

I was a critical Care RN for 12 years prior to this, I thought I knew everything about this drug, or so I thought. Didn't know it could do what it did, and I may be 1 in a million, but life is miserable when you are that one. Eat plenty of nuts, berries, veggies high in Antioxidants. That will work better than any prescription drug.

Very interesting show. I am a 56 YO male. I had my lipids tested in May of 2010. Tri 131, HDL 45, LDL 267, total 338. These numbers had been steadily increasing since 1998. My doctor said I should start on statins, and gave me some samples to start out on. I looked up the possible side effects, and was concerned enough that I decided not to take them. As I said, my lipids were increasing since '98, and so was my weight.

I listened to your show on Atkins, and decided to give it a try. I lost 20 pounds so far. (190 to 170... I am 6'0") My lipids are now, Tri 100,HDL 65, LDL 166, total 251. I feel great. I am continuing to lose weight, and figure 160 pounds would probably be a good place for me. I'd like to see my LDL go lower, but my ratios are good. I eat bacon and eggs every morning. I eat lots of vegetables and salads. I exercise regularly, but not enough. Once you start feeling and looking better, donuts lose their attraction.

I am concerned about a statin-Parkinson's link....
Apparently, this is being studied by Harvard and by Univ of North Carolina.
My husband has begun to exhibit the signs of Parkinson's; I wouldn't have known that statins were causing the tremor, etc., if it hadn't been for a period without them.

Kathleen, as well you should be concerned about statins risk of neurological disorders. There is plenty of info out there, correlating parkinsons and low LDL cholesterol levels.

My father recently lost his best childhood friend to ALS, which also has a correlation to use of statins.

Some info about parkinsons and statins: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mds.22013/abstract

I hope GJ misunderstood his doctor and his HDL is 81 which is great, but I hope the 257 was his total cholesterol and not his LDL.

My wife just got her latest tests, and her HDL is 88, and her LDL is 77. I am so envious of that ratio. Both of her parents lived into their early 90's.

Thank you......the LDL 159 and HDL 81 which is great.

Not all excessively high HDL is good. Sometimes HDL can be high due to inflammation. Check other inflammation markers such as CRP-c, SED rate, fibrinogen and Homocysteine if HDL is >80. This can be a first indicator of an underlying immune system problem such as Hasimoto's Thyroiditis.

Since 80% of cholesterol is made in the liver and only 20% comes from the diet, lipids are much more of an indicator of glucose metabolism and control than it is a direct indicator of "bad" fat in the diet. Triglycerides are yesterday's carbohydrates that were not burned as energy and are headed for fat stores. Check Hemoglobin A1c, fasting insulin or c-peptide and fasting glucose.

PEOPLES' PHARMACY RESPONSE: THANKS FOR THE CLARIFICATION ON HDL AND HASHIMOTO'S. MUCH APPRECIATED.

Great, very courageous to make podcasts like this that go against big pharma. Game, set and match for Dr. Nortin Hadler I would say.

Glad to hear that some American doctors are questioning authority. I suffered a TIA five and a half years ago. The neurologist immediately placed me on Lipitor. My cholesterol measured 204 and she reacted as expected in our drug company driven, quota based healthcare system.

I don't recall the original dosage, but found later prescriptions for 10 mg daily. I was tested after 6 months and down to 150 cholesterol. I didn't call the doctor, I just quit Lipitor. From the first day I took Lipitor, I was devastated by it. I was a very active person and found myself worn out by mid afternoon and in a constant "fog" because my cognitive abilities were compromised.

Two years ago, I was experiencing intermittent extreme jaw pain. I was certain the cause was recent oral surgery involving a tooth extraction due to a perforated sinus and likely nerve damage. To reassure my wife, I called my doctor. Any jaw pain at age 62 will land you on the treadmill for a stress test. I had no problems with chest pain, shortness of breath and they pushed me to 125% of normal for my age.

Afterwards, my resting heart rate was back in the 50s and the testing doctor noted I had the "heart of a swimmer". However, the ultrasound was picking up "low side of normal function" in my left ventricle. Subsequently, they ordered the cardiac cath test. The doctor concluded arteries all clear, minimal plaque for a 62 year old, but LVD, left ventricle dysfunction. He asked if I had rheumatic fever as a child, which I hadn't. While researching LVD on the web, I found studies that linked LVD to statins and can only conclude that it was caused by Lipitor.

I'm 63 now. My career came to an end due to the economy and my Cobra insurance finally expired. Thus, I'm uninsurable due to Lipitor. Once I quit Lipitor, my energy and endurance returned, but my cognitive abilities have never totally recovered.

I have the same problem as you DWD. It started with Lipitor and I eventually could not walk from the bed to the bathroom. I found on the internet that if I kept taking it I would be in a wheelchair. I have tried every one on the market and the same result. Severe pain in my legs and joints. My knee goes completely out of me and I can't walk up steps.

Within two weeks of stopping, completely normal, same with the Red Rice Yeast. I tried the fish oil, but I have collagenous coilitis and it gives me severe diarrhea or at least the prescription kind does. I might go back and try the OTC. The time release nicacin makes me feel awful. I can the OTC kind and just started low and built up.

The doctors are so mad at me, but I work with others that have had the same experience and would rather just die than takes these meds. What help is there for people like us?

Just sending to be Sure I get e-mail updates.

All who are considering a statin or another cholesterol reducing poison....I encourage you to buy the book "Over the Counter Natural Cures" by Shane Ellison...a former Medicinal Chemist who became disgusted with Big Pharma and their lies and twists on the truth. His website is http://www.thepeopleschemist.com/

Check out Red Yeast Rice.... from any vitamin store. My former husband is taking it on the recommendation of his doctor and is experiencing NO side effects.

Sorry, I missed the line that tells about your experience with Red yeast rice.

The Red Rice Yeast did the same to my legs as the Statin which was so disappointing. The way my legs feel is like a toothache. They hurt when I lay down or sit down, which makes work impossible. If I am walking they feel fine. And my knee was going out all the time. It is so remarkable that now I have great knees and no leg pain.

And if this attacks your muscles - remember your heart is a muscle. These drugs are huge money makers for the drug companies.

I had muscle weakness with the OLD Swanson's Vitamins Red Yeast Rice; it was taken off the Market by the FDA, their new version I have no problems with, it is in about the same bottle/label. I think there were some 'real' statins in the previous version (about 2 yrs ago).

Mike

Red Yeast Rice works the same way that statins do, I have posted this in another forum, but its worth repeating til the whole world hears...

Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA, which inhibits the production of Mevalonic acid, eventually giving rise to cholesterol production, steroid hormone production such as androgens and testosterone, Vitamin D, Ubiquinol (Coenzyme Q10) Dolichols.

So by blocking cholesterol's production, statins also block the production of other necessary and vital components of life. Ever wonder why sales of Levitra, Cialis and Viagra have exploded, look at what statins are doing to us. So by taking one drug, you will need another drug, and what about all of the sudden rock bottom Vitamin D levels, I call that job security for big pharma...

Please read this article, and I have hundreds of others which should immediately make you SERIOUSLY reconsider if your doctor has your best interest at heart, or is he/she just parroting the drug rep that came around

1: http://www.spacedoc.net/what_causes_atherosclerosis

God bless!!
Chris

Those who choose to use Red Yeast Rice, please do so carefully. Yes it is very effective at reducing cholesterol, but it also works the same way statins do, on the Mevolonate pathway of cellular Metabolism. http://www.spacedoc.net/red_yeast_rice.htm

As a former Critical Care RN, I had a very difficult time accepting the fact that Cholesterol is irrelevant when it comes to heart disease. It is the fall guy. Cholesterol is present in nearly 100% of the cells in our bodies, and has some very important functions. When we get rid of it, we risk God knows what... it is there for a reason, and is not a problem until it becomes oxidized, that's when it becomes rancid and sticky.

Contact me if you would like any more info. If I can prevent someone else from my fate, I will do it.
God Bless!!

My hubby had really high cholesterol and the red yeast rice stuff upset his system. His number is perfect now (as far as I'm concerned) at 220. It was over 100 points more. He is taking no drugs.

What have we done? Eliminate foods with additives, all veggie oils other than olive, use only natural fats such as organic coconut and palm oils. We are using a few nut oils to make mayo and also rice bran oil for high heat sauteing.

He is now eating closer to his metabolic type, not perfect mind you, but it has also made a difference in his gut. No he is not overweight any more. He's lost about 20 lbs without even trying.

From the studies I've seen about the centenarians they all have cholesterol in the low to mid 200s. Unfortunately my number is too low 110). I am the one with the cardiovascular problems, albeit mine are from trauma to my heart from a seat belt. My vessels are squeaky clean.

If you are on statins, take at least 300mg. of CoQ10 daily. No known side effects and it helps many with muscle and other statin problems.

I had 2 pharmacists tell me to take the REGULAR NIACIN--- NOT ---the SLO-RELEASE NIACIN instead.

If you are going to use it instead of NIASPAN--they claim it works better.

Let's not forget all the damage that was done by 30 years of the medical industry pushing carbs and dissing fat.

My cholesterol was 270. For 6 months I went on a low fat nearly vegan diet. My cholesterol went to 317.

Carbs are a culprit. Factory ruined fats are a culprit, as are fats from animals that eat "chow" or "ration" other than their natural foods produce unhealthy fats.

I now eat a what most would consider a high-fat diet. But my fats are largely organic from animals that eat grass and bugs.

My cholesterol is now 105. As far as I'm concerned the medical industry should be tarred and feathered.

As a primary care internist, I have these "conversations " with at risk patients everday, and I continue to be disappointed with the lack of consensus amoung the experts regarding use of statins for primary prevention. I heard nothing about the use of risk models , such as Framingham 10 Year Cardiac Risk Assessment or the Reynold's Risk Score to help target true "at risk " patients for use of statins.
Nothing was mentioned about the fall out that the Jupiter Trial results is having on changing practice patterns of physicians' use of statins on supposedly
normal patients.

Lastly, what is a rheumatologist doing on the program discussing primary prevention of anything - especially coronary disease.

With time, I have become very conservative with my use of ANY prescription medication in my practice- but to summarily withhold the use of a medication as well studied as a statin I feel is not in the overall best interest of my patient.
Your shows are always informative and helpful for me. Thanks.

Just listened to your show on The Cholesterol Controversy. Thanks again for superior work reporting real science. It also enlightened me on why the right wing wants to defund NPR, now an article of faith for Republicans running in my new congressional district in North Texas. Fourteen billion dollars in profits apparently must be protected, even as America poisons itself. What a country.

Joe and Terry, I am a physician who follows your show faithfully. I love it but you do us a great disservice when you do not ask speakers, e.g., the cardiologist in the statin discussion, to divulge potential conflicts of interest. I would bet the cardiologist is funded by a statin drug co. Dogmatic statements in such a circumstance is more than unethical.

In January 2011, my total cholesterol was 237, with HDL of 60 and LDL of 147. My doctor insisted I start Crestor. When I balked at that idea, he wrote a presciption for Zetia. I did not get that one filled either. My 10 yr risk factors put me in the very low range, so I decided to try a more natural approach and put myself on phytosterols and pantethine (B5). I also upped my intake of veggies and fruits and decreased my intake of meats, and added some oat bran and flaxseed to my morning cereal. I have had my lipids checked twice since I started my "diet" and my numbers this month showed my total cholesterol at 197, HDL 71, and LDL 107, so someting is working and I will stay off statins as long as possible.

I believe it was your program that prompted me to get the book Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Will there be a day when your apo B number will trump your cholesterol number? Will there be a day when we watch our sugar intake rather than our fat intake? Will there be a day when the biochemistry of how sugar promotes accumulation of plaques is confirmed? Statin drugs may end up being unnecessary if dietary changes go beyond just reducing saturated fat and cholesterol intake.

Here you have one doctor taking statins and believes it improves his odds. The other doctor says he does not even want his cholesterol tested. They are both looking at the same numbers and reach different conclusions. The numbers I remembered was 50 must be treated to prevent one heart attack. Not extension of life, just eliminate one heart attack.

The doctor taking statins must be one of those who suffers no side effects. I do suffer muscle aches and depression when taking them. So if it really gains me no time in this world then why should I be plagued with body aches and depression for my remaining time on earth.

I quit two years ago and it has been great. At 65 I still get aches, but nothing like when I was on statins. I did continue taking 100 mg of CO-Q10 because I discovered it actually seems to reduce my normal aches I have after a day of yard work.

I have been increasing my avocado intake and I started the tablespoon of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar (in a juice glass of water and a teaspoon of sugar) and my latest cholesterol was 192 - it has been a bit better, but it has been worse too.

My foot & leg aches/cramps kept getting worse though. About a month ago I started taking 250 mg magnesium and no more foot/leg aches/cramps. Now where did I read about that - oh yeah - The Peoples Pharmacy.

Thanks for the show.

K H - you're not alone in North Texas. I too live in the area and am ashamed at the greed and ignorance. We have been led down a path of consuming both food and medical treatment in this country that is driven by very wealthy companies, their executives and the special interest money that goes along with it. We must educate ourselves and keep the pressure on making progressive changes that will pay off in the future.

Congratulations on your significant reduction in your cholesterol numbers. I got a wake up call at 338 total and 267 LDL. I took a different route from you, eating more fat, and pretty much embracing the new Atkins approach and, by not being too fanatical, other than cutting out sweets and bread, have dropped my total to 221 (-35%) and my LDL to 131 (-51%). At the same time my HDL went from 45 to 75 (+67%). I also have been taking fish oil and flax oil. I have dropped 20 pounds from 190 to 170. I have been doing this for over a year, and it is just part of my lifestyle now. No stress.

Anyway, I feel good, enjoy what I eat, and feel that knowing the numbers has helped me to make positive changes in my life.

PS My doctor wanted me to start statins and I resisted. I am glad I did.

I highly recommend the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes.

I'd trust the opinion of a rheumatologist; they have to deal with all the side effects of statins.

What are comments concerning my cholesterol numbers of HDL 33, LDL 64 Total 129. Is this good bad or just what?

I was on Niaspan at an $80 co-pay. I asked my pharmacist what the difference was between Niaspan and OTC slow released niacin. He told me "your body can't tell the difference" between the two. So I don't see any reason to be on Niaspan when you can purchase OTC niacin for less. Is there something I'm missing here? This has made me lose faith in the physician's practice I'm attending and I'm looking for a different place to go.

I'm interested in what you find out as my numbers are similar. Thanks.

I think the only obvious answer is to GET A SECOND OPINION - even if you have to pay out of pocket because your insurance would pay. Something is wrong in your body chemistry or your lab work just got screwed up (lab mistakes do happen).

I found all these varied comments interesting. The only sense I can make of the conglomerate of them is that people need to find a better Dr. (MD or DO) who will listen AND work with you.

My belief, without any data to back it up, is that the farther down the training chain (i.e Family Practice vs Internist vs Cardiologist) MAY result in doctors who must rely on pharma sales pitches for information. I don't know that this opinion of mine has any validity at all.

Your congressman or congresswoman should be forcing the FDA to do a good job but won't because pharma sends contributions for re-election.

Thank you for this program.
It was a pleasure listening to Dr. Hadler (who was one of my profs in med school at UNC-CH in the late '70's ). His lack of faith in the industries that put constant pressure on us every day at work is refreshing. There might not be a lot of us but we are out there--- the primary care physicians who are fighting this pressure and who are sincerely trying to do our very best, drugless work, for the people under our care. By the way, many of you make it hard work too-- the many who want the "easy" way out of illness and dis-ease by taking pills.

Just another guy in the Atkins school which includes, Karl, ajr, JP and Kp. Although I have read both Taubes books which are excellent, they are both difficult although the second is for the general public. I heartily recommend the Westman book, The New Atkins Diet, etc. which is in paperback and about $16 or get from your library. It is a how to book, but also has enough of the science to make most comfortable doing the diet. For what it is worth, my Cleveland Clinic doc., sees the results and tells me to just keep doing what I am doing.

Several years ago I was prescribed a statin (zocor)and developed every nasty side-effect. I began investigating natural alternatives, one of which is one red grapefruit a day (among other things) I quickly lost the side-effects, and told my VA doctor after better readings than when taking the statin, was told I was nuts and not to speak to other vets about it.

A friend's wife told me her husband had begun taking a statin and had a personality change that frightened his family and employees. I suggested the problem was the statin and to try discontinuing it for a while to see if there were a difference. Bingo! No more statins for him.

Three weeks ago another friend told me he felt terribly ill since taking a new med. A statin, surprise! I suggested he discontinue the statin for awhile. A few minutes ago he telephoned to say he felt fantastic and I was invited to tomorrow afternoon's bar-b-que.

I realize this is anecdotal, but three in a row??

Kudos to Dr. Hadler for his very insightful discussion, and poor Dr. Califf unable to put the Great Myth of Cholesterol to rest. It is rather telling how the big industry has a stranglehold on medical practice here. There is so much evidence out there now showing how cholesterol levels or ratios are the poorest predictors for heart disease, as poor as one can imagine to make them totally irrelevant, and still we spend billions on useless drugs to try to "control" our fate.

It is galling. It is even more disturbing that people like Califf let themselves taken by the nose. We expect better judgement from our MDs and especially those in high level academic institutions who ought to take the cold hard scientific facts for what they show: cholesterol is NOT the culprit so stop wasting your time effort and resources on that. It is a dead end.

Inflammation and a dynamic interaction between immune cell accumulation and other factors are a much more fruitful avenue to take to solve the problem of aortic infarcts.

The discussion between Dr. Hadler and Dr. Califf was amazing! Anyway you can link the research articles? I would love to read the original research and share it with my colleagues at the VA.

What is the connection between a high C reactive protein level and high cholesterol? A few years back my CRP level was 11 and the doctor's office (nurse practitioner first then doctor when I didn't follow the practitioner's advice) insisted that unless I started on Lipitor immediately, I would die from a heart attack. I could not get them to redo the blood work (it's too expensive) to see if it could possibly be a lab error. I did relent and take Lipitor for 3 months and was miserable the entire time so I stopped.

10 mg of Simvastatin had the same effect - pain, muscle aches, total fatigue, loss of strength, my skin burned if in the sun (I don't leave the house without 30 SPF).

Same practice, new doctor now says CRP numbers are unimportant and inconclusive (my last CRP was around 1) but now I am taking Lovaza and Niaspan because I still refuse to take statins (my rheumatologist recommends I avoid these medications). My lipid numbers are UP, I still feel miserable, I am exhausted. I exercise as much as possible. My dietician's only recommendation is to eat nuts (I have an allergy to all tree nuts).

So where do I go from here? I refuse to allow their worry to dominate my life. I feel fine without the medications - medications that only make my lab work worse. Any suggestions are welcome.

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