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Will New Heart Guidelines Put You on a Statin?

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According to The American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology, 33 million Americans should now be on statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs. That means about twice as many people as are currently prescribed these drugs. Using the new guidelines, physicians should be prescribing a statin to roughly 44 percent of men and 22 percent of women. Are you one of them?

Here's what the heart experts are recommending:

1) Any adult who has already been diagnosed with heart disease should be on an aggressive statin regimen.

2) Anyone who has an LDL cholesterol over 190 should also be on "high-intensity" statin therapy.

3) Anyone between the ages of 40 and 75 who has diabetes should be on moderate-intensity statin treatment.

4) Anyone who scores more than a 7.5% risk of a heart attack or stroke over the next decade is supposed to be on moderate-to-high intensity statin medication dose.

How do you determine if your 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event reaches the magic 7.5% or higher? The committee that drew up the guidelines created a risk calculator that takes into account sex, age, race, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, smoking history, and whether you are on treatment for hypertension.

So here's a test for you. Would a 58-year-old non-smoking white man with a total cholesterol of 200, good HDL cholesterol of 45, systolic blood pressure of 125 and not diabetic require a statin under the new guidelines? Answer: YES! That's even if he has no evidence of heart disease.

Were the same man to be 55, he would not trigger a statin prescription. Do three years make that much difference? According to the guideline committee, you bet!

Even though there is relatively little good data to support the use of statins in older people, the risk calculator mandates a prescription for senior citizens with seemingly good numbers. Here's another hypothetical patient:

A non-smoking, non-diabetic 70-year-old African American woman with fabulous numbers: total cholesterol 175, good HDL 90 and a systolic blood pressure of 115 still requires a statin according to the risk calculator.

This wouldn't trouble us nearly so much if statins were benign drugs with a low likelihood of causing side effects. In recent years we have learned that statins not only cause many people substantial muscle pain and weakness, but they can also cause fatigue, joint pain, digestive upset, headache, cataracts, dizziness, sexual problems, peripheral neuropathy and cognitive dysfunction. To learn more about the dangers of statins and other ways to manage risk factors, we offer Graedons' Guide to Cholesterol Control & Heart Health

We were especially alarmed to note that everyone with a diagnosis of diabetes between 40 and 75 years of age will be prescribed a statin under the new guidelines. The problem is that statins can actually trigger diabetes in susceptible people and can make blood sugar control more challenging for some patients. This complication seems to have been ignored by the guideline committee.

So, what are we to make of the new guidelines? Not following the guidelines can get a physician into trouble, so doctors will doubtless feel pressured to write more prescriptions for drugs like atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin. Manufacturers of brand name statins still under patent (Altoprev, Crestor, Livalo) may celebrate and consider more advertising.

We think that before millions more people start taking statins, they should consider whether diet and exercise could accomplish the same goals of preventing heart attacks and strokes. A recent essay in JAMA Internal Medicine (Oct. 28, 2013) pointed out that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can lower post-heart attack risk by 30%: "this is as powerful as the effect of statins, without the adverse effects or costs."

If you would like to see the new guidelines in their totality and download the CV Risk Calculator to determine whether your doctor is likely to whip out his prescription pad, here is a link.

What do you think of the new guidelines? Share your experience with statins? Would you ask your doctor for a statin prescription if the risk calculator says you are over the 7.5% cutoff? Please add your thoughts below in the comment section. Others will be interested in your opinion. 

 

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I find this so alarming. I have read, in this publication and several others, about the terrible downsides associated with the use of statins. I am a 53 year old female, with a total cholesterol of 200 but otherwise very healthy and not overweight. I also have no history of heart disease in my family. In spite of all this, I would be put on statins if my doctor was to follow these new guidelines. And there is no way I would take statins at this point, not with everything I know about them.

Something about the new guidelines is very troubling and points to the ever-growing tendency to prescribe more, more, more medications for Americans, whether we need them or not. Does this smack of big pharma and big business making more billions of dollars at the expense of our health? You bet. People, we are responsible for our own health and we have to educate ourselves. We can no longer trust our physicians to do right by us, since they're in bed with the pharmaceutical companies anyway. Very scary indeed!

I am a 60 year old white lady. I don't want to take any medicine I don't need. I suffer with IBD and bad bladder. I don't want any more problems. My blood pressure was checked a month ago and it was 101/55. Leave me alone!

My doctor tried to put me on a statin because my bad cholesterol was too high. At the time I was a 50-year-old woman with no history of heart problems, and no family history of heart problems or diabetes. Diet did nothing.

I expressed my concerns to her when she prescribed this, that my mother had taken a statin and had died of liver cancer. My mother also took Tylenol for arthritis. Both medicines can be liver killers. I tried a low dose of the statin, but felt like crap so discontinued myself.

My neighbor, who is in his 70's and had a stroke last year and was declining in health rapidly. He could not walk, had horrible pain sometimes so bad he could not move out of bed, would sleep all the time, could not eat as he felt full and lost 35 pounds over a 6 month period. His wife took him off his statin and now he is like a new man. He can walk, get out of the house, his appetite is back and he has no pain.

I really don't think doctors consider the side effects of statins when prescribing them and discount any complaints or objections a patient might have when taking a statin drug. These new recommendations will only make matters worse when dealing with a doctor, and make the drug companies rich.

This reminds me of the time when it was thought mandatory that every woman should take estrogen for the rest of her life. How many people associated with the drug industry were on this expert panel that made this decision.

How much money will pharmaceutical companies make from these guideline changes? Who are the doctors who made up these guidelines and what are their ties to said pharmaceutical companies? This should be made public information.

This is absolutely ludicrous. Why would I take a prescription drug out of prevention of something that is not even ailing me? Just to cause a myriad side effects, so that way I'd have to be put of other prescriptions for the side effects I only got because of a drug I didn't even have to take!

Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food." Thank you for your articles. They really open my eyes to the terror within the pharmaceutical/medical community. I'm so thankful to know what I do about Natural Health.

Looks to me like Big Pharma is at work again, to make more money. ....In my opinion people should ask more questions of their Dr. instead of blindly taking any type of medication being subscribed.

I took Simvastatin, 40 mg a day four 2 years. I have high cholesterol and I had a stroke. The doctors were not even sure why I had a stroke.

I changed my diet, I know the risks. I had a talk with my doctor. The side effects from the statin are not worth eating everything I want to.

Just the memory loss was more than I wanted to manage. I'd much rather give up foods with bad cholestrol and eat foods with good cholestrol than not be able to remember what I did yesterday.

Thanks

Speechless, aghast, thank you Graedens.

This is an appalling misjudgment and an enormous boon to pharmaceuticals. I would appreciate critical attention from People's Pharmacy on new evidence that suggests links between low cholesterol and susceptibility to dementia including Alzheimer's.

It seems that cholesterol is being demonized wrongly, when in truth it is a body chemical necessary for health, in particular brain health and longevity. It also seems that it isn't a good predictor of future heart disease.

Could we be starting a perfect storm of dementia and illness in old age as a result of these unfortunate new guidelines? Could you devote a radio show to cholesterol: -- even if we heard differing opinions it would aid understanding.

I was prescribed statin drugs by my GP, but refused and continue to refuse them. I have unusually high "good" cholesterol and very low triglycerides. The more I try to find information on cholesterol, heart and brain health, and the terrible side effects of statin drugs, the more fortunate I feel that I have never used statins. Hurray for a healthy diet and exercise.

Thanks! Love your show and web site.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

Tune in this coming Saturday for more details and perspective. For those who can't listen live to our radio show, it will be posted on this site Monday morning.

I am a 65-year-old woman with Type II Diabetes. None of the other indicators fit me. I have already told my doctor that I will not take statins. If he should prescribe them, I will not fill the prescription.

According to the Associated Press article in today's newspaper, "Roughly half the cholesterol panel members have financial ties to makers of heart drugs, but panel leaders said no one with industry connections could vote on the recommendations." In my informed opinion, no one with financial ties to the drug companies of any kind should have come within a zillion miles of the panel! Thanks to People's Pharmacy, we the consumers are not as gullible as the drug companies would like us to be. Keep up the good work People's Pharmacy.

Just read about this in the newspaper and the following was in the article:

"Roughly half the cholesterol panel members have financial ties to makers of heart drugs, but panel leaders said no one with industry connections could vote on the recommendations."

Follow the money.

It's depressing to think that cardiologists ignore the alarming side effects and the increasing numbers of studies that contradict these new guidelines.

Doctors should not wonder why so many people rely on alternative sources for medical information. I sympathize with medical professionals in this insurance-centric health care system but these kind of "guidelines" only ensure they will get less respect.

So many questions come to mind.

If it's true that 50% of heart attack victims have low cholesterol and 50% have high cholesterol, what is the value of consuming statins with their risks and cost to move from one category to the next?

Are we looking through the wrong end of the microscope? Is this a business plan to make more statin customers and more money treating side effects? Is one of many symptoms being treated like a single cause (e.g., do tire skid marks create auto accidents)?

Can better public health be achieved by reducing sugar, salt, and trans fats in our prepared foods, beverages, and diets? World wide, where are the healthiest people and what do they consume?

What a disastrous recommendation. I am sure that I "qualify" for statins but will not take them. I have already informed my doctors that I will not. As my internist said to me "I know which arguments I won't win." I guess the message is "buy pharmaceutical stocks" as they seem to control the recommending agencies.

I clicked on "Not Helpful" by mistake! Please ignore!
Thank you for pointing out the flaws in this "news" article. I have refused doctor-recommended statins before when my cholesterol was high (due to a low functioning thyroid a naturopath told me). We should all educate ourselves and be in control of our own health, not blindly follow the medical establishment. Many years ago (and to some degree today) people did "whatever the doctor said to do". Thank goodness now many people work WITH their doctors for optimal health.

This only confirms my opinion of the pharmaceutical industry and the "health care" business, profits are the bottom line. It is truly disheartening to see the group that should be caring for our health using tactics, such as fear, and spurious data to force uninformed people to take medications that are minimally effective and potentially very harmful. What happened to the Hippocratic oath?
Thank you People's Pharmacy for caring enough to tell the truth.

Congratulations once again to Big Pharma!They'll find any way to squeeze the dollars out of patients who already spend enough on medical bills. I agree with the comments from the other readers who said they will refuse to take statins if they're prescribed. Stay strong!

I knew when I read the piece in the news yesterday that People's Pharmacy would be commenting on this almost incomprehensible (unless you take pharmaceutical companies' and--I suppose-- some physicians' profits into account) decision. Thank you!

Now, there is NO way I'm taking a statin just because I'm a (LADA) Type 1 diabetic. Fortunately, my doctor knows better than to suggest it. The one time he did, it was hesitantly, and when both his nurse and I exclaimed simultaneously "Uh, uh! Ain't gonna happen!" He dropped the subject like a hot rock.

I suggest that everyone print out a copy of this article for their own physicians, suggest they subscribe to "The People's Pharmacy" newsletter, and if that doesn't do it, to "Just say 'no'" to prescriptions for statins...especially those prescribed under the new "guidelines."

It's all about money !! Am 59yr male diagnosed type II nearly 8yr ago. Took statins right out of the shoot. Then after memory loss and feeling bad, quit taking them after 4yr. Since then have continued to exercise and eat healthy. Memory came back, cholesterol and blood pressure have maintained, now feel good. Doctors still try to push pills. No doubt it's all about billables. Sorta feel like a second hand citizen/patient when in their office and they keep pushing pills and I keep saying no to the prescriptions. They keep telling me I am considered a borderline diabetic.

I was shocked to hear this on the news last night. What got my attention was the leading that the number of people on statins would more than double under these new guidelines! My first thought was now I know who paid for the study. Why is that never mentioned?

I have done the research on statins. There is no evidence of efficacy of statins for primary prevention. None. They reduce serum cholesterol but they do not reduce overall morbidity or mortality.

However, there is an impressive body of research on bias. With half on the people writing the guidelines on retainer with the companies that make statins this is a tremendously biased guideline.

This is from the same people that recommended thalidomide for pregnant women. That was a good one, wasn't it.

Thank you again Graedons for sounding the alarm. I hope many are listening. Both my mother and mother-in-law were prescribed statins. My mother, now deceased, had a total cholesterol of 160 and her doctor still wasn't "comfortable" with that number--crazy! She died of complications of dementia and diabetes, both of which devastated her life.

My mother-in-law has taken statins for decades. Terrified that fat would kill her she rabidly avoided it and ate a diet with far too many carbs and at the age of 85 has diabetes (for about 10 years now) and for the last 5 years or so has been progressing through the stages of dementia. Pharmaceutical tragedies!

It is indeed poor doctoring to simply throw pills at people instead of seeking to correct causes. My husband and I have recently read The Great Cholesterol Myth and we will NOT be taking statins. Get this book-it could save your life!

I was on Lipitor for a number of years.

The side affects were muscle pains and memory loss, so I quit.

Now I use non-flush niacin to help reduce cholesterol, and thereafter, the mentioned side affects of the statin are gone.

This is definitely the work of "Big Pharmacopeia". Think of all the new revenues they will make. Who the heck was on that panel? Doctors associated with the drug industry?

For many years statins controlled by cholesterol but I always had muscle pain. Blood tests were negative so the Rx continued. Then two years ago, my new dr suggested I stop the simvastatin and see if the muscle pain went away. It took a while, and the pain stopped.

My numbers aren't bad, but they need to be better, so we tried pravastatin just to see if it would be okay. Within 4 days, the muscle pain came back. I called my pharmacist and asked could it come back this quickly, and he said it could.

I suggested breaking the pill in half and he said I would still be getting the reaction because of what is in the pill. He said to check with my dr but also mentioned that it could damage my kidneys, and rather quickly. (I stopped the Rx.)Is this possible? Thanks so much.

Sadly, I have become very jaded with the American medical system. The poor doctors have no choice but to kowtow to the pharmaceutical industry and the medical management systems. I find myself avoiding going to a doctor which is more bureaucracy than medicine. Allow me to quote a New York Times' headline from January 9, 2013: "Health Care and Profits, A Poor Mix'.

Where is CRP in all this? Isn't all the research now pointing to that number as a much better indicator of risk? Right now, my numbers are all wonderful (I am totally plant-based in my eating, and I exercise regularly), and my age is not high enough to put me into a category where it would be recommended that I take these. But according to lots of people writing in on the New York Times comment section on this, when you fiddle around with the online calculator, there are certain ages after which NO blood result leaves you in the clear.

A white guy who's 63 with GREAT numbers needs to be on statins, according to this. And one person said he/she was in the clear with a 5% risk when he/she typed in 119 as the systolic number. But if he/she put in 120, the risk went up to 35% (what?!!) and then they're supposed to be prescribed.

Until they come up with guidelines that also include CRP, resting heart rate, etc., I will ignore these. But it troubles me that doctors will be getting in trouble for not prescribing them. That could make for a tense relationship with some doctor I have years from now. Also interesting that apparently several prominent people resigned from the committee when they saw where things were going, and a lot of evidence was squelched in the process of coming up with the recommendations.

They took only things from controlled studies and ignored compelling evidence that came from other kinds of studies. Isn't this the same group that's been promoting the "heart healthy" diet that preached low fat but has resulted in a more overweight population than ever?

I am a family medicine physician and I rarely prescribe statin drugs because I do not believe they are the "cure-all" they are made out to be. Cholesterol is a necessary building block for the nervous system and many hormones, etc.

To treat a 'laboratory value' that is not even a disease is ridiculous. The studies do not support use of statins and cholesterol-lowering as the answer for heart disease especially for primary prevention. They may have other effects, both good and bad, that as yet are not fully evaluated, which means it is best to play it safe and not overprescribe them.

The drug companies are laughing all the way to the bank. As a physician, it is difficult to do my job when I am expected to follow "guidelines" that I consider misguided and unsupported by the actual studies available to review. Furthermore, the "guidelines" keep changing and are like dealing with a moving target. One year its good to take calcium, another year its bad. Eggs are good, no bad, no good!!

Moderation and healthy living is the best answer. Not everything can be cured by a pill. We have bigger issues to deal with in this country, such as unhealthy food and lack of oversight of medication/vaccine production, poor water and air quality, poor social support, excess stress, poverty, and the list goes on.

"Not following the guidelines can get a physician into trouble,"
So THAT is why my former doctor did all those dumb things like wanting me on Estrogen! My experience has been that drugs just begat symptoms which were treated with others drugs. Estrogen raised my blood pressure a little, the med for THAT gave me a cough, so I was medicated for THAT. When I suggested the cough was from the med for BP, I was informed that it could not be so because the cough would have shown up after a few weeks, and not after several months. However I prevailed and Lo! the cough disappeared when the med was changed.

That a doctor can get into trouble by not following BAD guidelines is chilling. Big Brother may be stupid, but he prevails. I think Nancy Reagan's "Just Say NO" phrase should be dusted off and used by patients.

It's obviously a decision for the pharmaceutical companies benefit. My husband had a heart attack in 2005 and quad by-pass surgery. He was put on a statin, and had joint pain and mental fogginess. I spoke with the pharmacist at my local drug store, after the cardiologist assured me it was NOT the statin. He told me that he was hearing many of these same reports from customers. One man forgot how to get home from the drug store. We stopped the statin and the symptoms disappeared. He passed on in May of 2012, but never took statins again. I would never take them, and have always exercised my right to choose, regardless of pressure from the medical profession.

Thanks for continuing to warn people about the corruption and greed in the organized crime field called medicine. Big Pharma doesn't care how many people they murder and maim, it is all about money to Big Pharma. They own the FDA and they are poisoning us.

My family history of heart disease and stroke is terrible. I have always worked hard through diet and exercise to minimize my risk factors. Still, as a thin, stressed, working young mother, about 25 years ago, my blood pressure and cholesterol went up.

I started on statins and blood pressure meds. The bp meds are a low dose and the statin does is moderately low dose. I have had no problems and my cholesterol and bp are well-controlled. I have seen too many non-smoking, non-obese members of my family die of heart disease for me to consider stopping when I am side-effect free.

I am lucky that I have had no side effects. I am not a big pharmaceutical consumer or promoter. I still exercise, control my weight, am careful about my diet, and use other stress management tools. However, I am extremely thankful to have the statins to help me out.

When the doctor put me on Crestor and it almost made me bedridden in less than a week, I started listening to The Peoples Pharmacy and reading all about the side effect of statins from all over the internet. I now watch my diet. Get plenty of exercise and at almost 73 I feel better than in many years, off all meds!! I can only think this is the governments way to kill us off to save Social Security. It certainly does NOT look like they have the patient in mind. Just the big Pharmas. Force me to take a pill is not health and healing, it is dictatorship.

I am appalled by these new recommendations. I would like to hear a response from Dr David Perlmutter, author of GRAIN BRAIN who touts our NEED for cholesterol, particularly for brain health. And also a response for the authors of the GREAT CHOLESTEROL MYTH. by Dr Stephen Sinatra and nutritionist Jonny Bowden, whose decades of experience seems to fly in the face of these new guidelines. Lets get them on Peoples Pharmacy again and see what they have to say! I feel like Big Pharm is ruling the world.

I am intolerant of statins and resist taking them. I have tried every statin on the books and they cause "fatigue and weak, aching legs". I can barely make it up the stairs when taking those drugs. We should be suspicious of this report and investigate the interaction of the drug companies with the doctors who crafted these guidelines.

I exercise regularly, lost weight (70 pounds), plan to lose more weight, and eat carefully--mostly follow the Mediterranean Diet. According to the guidelines, I am a prime candidate for taking statins. I've had two heart attacks, 5-bypass surgery, have diabetes (Type II), and am over 65. But, I refuse to take statins because I want to remain as active as possible and involved with life until I die (hopefully quickly) with my third heart attack.

I refuse to die inch by inch with this weakness caused by statins. I refuse to take yet more medications, which cause side effects, which cause my doctor to prescribe more medications to offset those side effects, etc. More people go to live in nursing homes because of over-medication and while getting ever less involved in life, they die a slow and sad death. Not for me.

Well surprise! the cardiologists who have ALWAYS been over-prescribing statins have supported the idea that the American public needs to take more stains!

I wonder if the big pharma people had anything to do with this?

I took Zocor for several years during my fifties for a total chol that had reached into the 260s. I eventually stopped because I felt that I was not in the population that need them: no hx of heart disease or stroke, no hypertension, no diabetes, just a few lbs above recommended weight. My only chronic problem was and is hypothyroidism for which I take a low dose of levothyroxine.

After some years off the Zocor, my total chol was around 250 but I refused to take another statin. I told the doctor that I would deal with it through diet and exercise. I started a sensible diet (cut out fried foods and desserts, ate more veggies and fruits, little red meat, etc). I ate breakfast and lunch and had a grapefruit for dinner. Four months later my total chol was down 50 points, I had lost 20 lbs and was feeling great.

My doctor's response: "I don't know what you're doing, but keep on doing it."

What incredible influence the pharmaceutical companies have on our medical professionals. It upsets and angers me to think that the medical profession has such blatant disregard for our health and intelligence. One must be their own best INFORMED advocate on these issues. One must also, then SPEAK UP and tell your medical professionals where you stand on these issues and why... be informed.

I have learned that so many of these medical professionals ARE NOT adequately informed on so many of these, and simply do not keep up with the current literature and research on these medications and their dangerous side effects. Shame thrice shame upon them. PEOPLE... BE INFORMED AND READ THE RESEARCH AND LITERATURE,.. your PCP in all likely has not!
Stephen..B.A., M.A., Ed.S.

I was appalled when I read this in the paper this morning. I was on Lovastatin for a brief time a couple of years back. When it got to the point that my knees hurt so badly I was unable to walk around Disney World with a guest I quit taking the meds and am now pain free. And still my doctor tries to prescribe a statin every time I see him. I am now changing doctors.

The newspaper article about the new guidelines stated that at least half of the panel members have financial ties to big pharms. As far as I'm concerned that says it all.

I have post-polio syndrome and already have muscle and nerve pain. I also have neuopathy from rotational scoliosis. I will not take any statins, because the side-effects are dangerous. People I know who also have post-polio and are taking statins, have much worse pain and many have had to start using wheel chairs, after being put on those drugs. I know many people who developed diabetes after going on them. And some who developed dementia. I won't be a victim to drug companies out to make windfall profits on their statins, and to the doctors who push those drugs.

CAK- you write as if these recommendations have some legitimate basis and are not wholly created out of politics.

Now more people will have more aches and pains associated with statins then they will sell more pain relievers. What a drugged nation we have become.

Please continue sending me updates on this. I have fought with my doctors til am blue in the face regarding statins..they say take I say no. Since I refused to take any longer, I have gotten better, there are days I can barely walk, but it's getting better, I sleep, I remember things. I refuse to get myself back in the condition I was of having to use a walker!

We are reading the GREAT CHOLESTEROL MYTH RIGHT NOW - should be required reading for all PCP's and intervention cardiologists. Agree with you CAK on every point you make.

How many persons on the guideline committee have ties to pharmaceutical companies that make statins? This will create tens of thousands more sick persons, suffering from the serious side effects of dangerous drugs such as these. How many doctors will recommend and give advice on dietary changes instead of prescribing statins?

After witnessing the adverse side effects from taking statins that my husband is having there is absolutely NOTHING that would convince me to take this medication. The only "medical" reason that the doctor cited for prescribing the medication ten years ago was that my husband's total cholesterol was 200. My husband was rarely ill and had taken sick days less than five times during a thirty-four year career.

Now retired, he has severe muscle weakness in his legs, memory issues, and is on medication for an abnormal heart rhythm. I am convinced that the statin medication has damaged his heart. His doctor, a cardiologist, refuses to acknowledge that any of his health issues are due to the statin drug. He has even replied that if my husband wants "to live" he needs to continue taking it.

The companies that produce these drugs and the doctors who prescribe them should be held accountable for not giving patients all possible adverse effects of these drugs in clear, concise, definitive terms. Quality of life should be a factor that every patient is given a chance to consider.

My husband was on a statin for a short while. He was miserable, and refused to take it. I certainly am not going to take a pill I don't need. Don't tell me that the drug companies don't have their fingerprints all over this. It will bring in billions to their already overflowing coffers.

I hope that patients remember that just because a panel of doctors say these guidelines should be followed, the ultimate decision is up to the patient. It took me nearly four years to undo the damage done because I followed the medical recommendation to go permanently on an acid suppressor because of my reflux problems. I was never told that this would leach calcium and magnesium from my body... which caused major problems.

Statins are not benign, as has been pointed out in this article. I believe these new rules are dangerous, and the possible consequences have not been clearly explained to the public so an intelligent decision can be made.

Doctors need to pay more attention to drug side effects. I have mentioned before that after my husband's passing due to CLL and pneumonia. I decided to research side effects of all his many drugs he was prescribed. They were all similar. I did get him off statins and he improved in many ways. Then the doctor prescribed a NEW drug and his last days were miserable. Thank you for standing firm and keeping us informed.

Diet and exercise for me! It may be in the 180 range but statins?? NOT IN THIS LIFE TIME!

When I was too sick to travel to see my regular diabetic Dr I saw a local Endocrinologist. He said take meds for blood pressure and cholesterol even though my blood test indicated I did not need it! When I went back to my regular Endo.. he said there WAS another blood test that that Dr should have run which shows that I DO NOT need these meds. I thank God for my regular Endo. He thoroughly tests for many things and I am grateful.

I stopped taking the baby aspirin... yet I often wonder if I should have stopped taking that.

My husband died last month of Alzheimer's. He was on statins for many years. I will always believe the Alzheimer's was caused by the statins and possibly the many blood pressure drugs. He was always active mentally and physically, ate a good diet, drank very little, was never overweight and no one in his family had ever had this horrible disease.

As a registered dietitian I think the new guidelines are NUTS! What happened to "first do no harm?" The Gluten Summit is going on right now with a week of specialist from multiple disciplines and all point to inflammation as the culprit. Cholesterol goes up in response. In other words "don't blame the fireman for the fire".

As a Britisher (living in NC) I can tell you that big pharma has been pushing massive use of statins in Europe for years. The cost to the British NHS patient of any prescription is about $10, so much of the cost is stuck to the government.

As comedian George Carlin has said, "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." These new absurd guidelines further snag into doctors' nets many more unsuspecting patients than ever before, and the wrong people still with conflicts of interest are setting these guidelines. After all, these little pills help many doctors to simply lower the numbers they seek but with little regard to adverse side effects.

As Chris Kresser has stated, "Studies show that physicians are more likely to deny than affirm the possibility of statin side effects, even for symptoms with strong evidence in the scientific literature. It's probable that the incidence of statin side effects is much higher than the reported rates." The door is now wide open for even many more problems ahead. These statins simply are the big tricks of the doctors' trade.

Be prepared for more TV advertising (allowed only in the U.S. and New Zealand) by Big Pharma because these new guidelines will add more big coins to their pockets at the expense and health of others!

More than ever, we need to take control of our own health. I am pre-diabetic, and why would I go back on a statin when I got off one to prevent Type 2 diabetes? Studies have confirmed that statins can cause diabetes (and cataracts) and is now enclosed as a package insert caution from the pharmacy. The risks of statins still outweigh the gains. "First, do no harm?"

I really believe that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Studies have shown that half of all patients hospitalized for heart disease have high cholesterol and the other half do not. Statins can lower inflammation, but so does turmeric.

Welcome to Pharmageddon! I've been acquainted with several people who were briefly on statins; all said NEVER AGAIN! The art of healing is now the business of pill pushing.

Totally outrageous!! According to Dr. Perlmutter we should be digesting MORE cholesterol, not less, more fats, not less, and statins cause cognitive decline. He says that sugar turns good LDL to bad, though I have not seen this on your website nor anywhere else (except Deep Nutrition). The medical community must be as confused as I am. I will NEVER take statins. Big Pharm must be really pressuring the doctors. Where is the evidence? WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?

I can't help but believe that someone is being paid off, and I think it has something to do with "Big Pharma." I don't think that the AHA has our best interests in mind, at all. Thank you, People's Pharmacy, for educating us with anecdotal information, which is more important that any medical reports, in my opinion.

I am 65 Type 2 diabetic with A1c of 6.2. Cholesterol of 133 total. With good HDL and LDL numbers. When I was taking Parvastatin I had muscle weakness and worst of all terrible Neuropathy in my feet. Burning hot, freezing cold and numbness. It scared me to death because I had an aunt who lost a leg due to Diabetes. I read one of your articles and it talked about this very thing. I quit it and my feet stopped right away. My doctor has a fit but I also read where too low of Cholesterol causes heart and stroke problems as well.
Go figure.

Well, it just goes to show you how strong the lobby is for the drug companies!

They have tried for the last 15 (at least) years to get me on a statin. I refuse after seeing what these drugs do to your body. I have a sister who thinks her MD is God and she does whatever he says.... she is now paying the price. Trouble with her tendons, etc. While my numbers change from 236 down to 213 last time I checked.... I will take my chances. Of course, I will try to get the numbers down without drugs! Call me crazy... that is okay.

I don't care what study they have, I refuse! It would be interesting to see if the people with the study are reimbursed by the drug companies. I bet the companies are jumping for joy!!


MG

I read all about this today, and I am a 100% with you guys. Statins can be dangerous, and sometimes even deadly! I'm 70 years old and, as my cholesterol began creeping up, I tried to lower it the natural way by using red yeast rice (nature's version of Lipitor). After a couple of weeks, I developed severe muscle pain in my legs. When my endocrinologist finally decided that that "it was time," I told him of my experience with red yeast rice and said that I would not take any statin drug. I've been on trilipix for about 3 years and have had no side effects or other problems. And, just to be on the safe side, my doctor orders blood tests every six months.

At 77 years old and in good health, I see no reason to take statins. The aches and pains that I do have are being controlled with over the counter drugs. I am going to keep it that way.

My view is that this development could greatly diminish the credibility of the AHA and the ACC. "Buyer Beware"!! It is also not difficult for me to imagine that the drug companies that make (and profit) from this stuff could possibly be "crying all the way to the bank". Hmmmm........ In any case, thanks to the People's Pharmacy for so appropriately reminding all of us about the many known adverse side effects which statins can generate!

Lipitor was prescribed for me post stent. I became weak, couldn't walk unassisted and almost collapsed. Fortunately, we asked a pharmacist who advised stopping the Lipitor immediately. I refused to take other statins. I researched for alternatives and found that statins primary benefit is their anti-inflammatory action. I found SolaRay Turmeric Special Formula (turmeric with boswellia and bromelein) helpful. Most recently I've taken Cardia7 with reduction in my C-Reactive Protein (indicator of inflammation) from 9 to O.32 in 6 months.

There is still so much controversy about statins and side effects and controversy about what constitutes appropriate cholesterol levels.

30 years ago I was told my total cholesterol was 330. I don't remember the rest of the numbers. I tried several different statins for brief periods and quit after I'd decided I'd rather die than continue to deal with aching limbs, disorienting brain fog, and exhausting fatigue. I haven't taken anything again for cholesterol and am near 80 years old now. So, to me, it's all hogwash. The same with blood pressure numbers. At one time in the country I was then living in, 160/100 was when the doctor put you on medication. As the numbers have lowered, more and more people are frightened into taking the drugs.

AMEN! I am 85 years old with heart failure, shortness of breath but otherwise in good health. I have had debates with MDs who insisted I take a statin. A few years ago I tried.
The muscle pains were intolerable. It IS Big Pharma and its army of bribed prescribers who push statins. The evil idea of treating a NUMBER should be addressed in medical schools but then the research $$ from Big Pharma would disappear!

My total cholesterol went from around 160 mg/dl to 230 and leveled off. It has remained there for several years. The statin pushers tell me how at risk I am. And I tell them it's my choice so go away and take your Statins with you.

Medicine in America has come under the influence and power of Big Pharma. Just consult the list of MDs who are "consultants", "advisors", "Speakers", etc. on the books of Big Pharma. This list speaks volumes about how drugs are pushed in America.

People aren't paying attention to what has become of their old health care. Drs. no longer know which medications are really efficacious and which ones don't work and are actually harmful enough to cause chronic disease, debilitating illness and worse, death. Drs. aren't minding their own store anymore. Large corporations manage their offices and often set down guidelines.

Congress has been infiltrated with high paid drug manufacture lobbyists who are allowed to write legislature detrimental to the public. Maybe this new Statin legislation will cause so many people to become ill that we will finally get an investigation. I'm cynical enough not to count on it though. Which is worse, being at the mercy of the drug companies who have hijacked the medical community, or having actual Socialized medicine where the pharmaceuticals would be cut out of the picture along with the insurance companies. How could it be any worse!

My husband was put on a statin by his primary care doc as a "preventive" since he has Type II Diabetes. He switched to seeing an endocrinologist for his diabetes management and asked to discontinue the statin. The new doc let him come off on a trial basis. His last cholesterol was 129. The doc told him to stay off. The guidelines would have him on it. But why?

I agree, Anne.....I am sick enough on this low dose generic lipitor and calcium channel blocker....I agree, there is no evidence they work, but, I had stomach surgery (colon removed) and my cholesterol shot up to 250 (trig were 700 once!) and I am vegetarian (eat fish) My GF died at 62 of heart attack, my mom died of stroke, and my BP was 210/180-I was terrified, but now I feel sick all the time. I am avg wt. and ht....I also cannot exercise (except swim and I live in Ohio) due to a motorcycle accident....help

Horrifying, incorrect decision that will harm more than it will help. It will significantly increase the profits of Statin manufacturers & those who prescribe & sell Statins. (Interesting that this decision comes at time when Statins are losing patents thus more Generics.

I was an UNWILLING VICTIM of prescribed Statins approx. 1999. I had No risks, just High Cholesterol. No family history, Good CRP tests etc. But NO WARNING of ADVERSE EFFECTS from MD. I Suffered EXTREME DEBILITATION: Pain, weakness, could not function. MD who prescribed denied all. But "used medical insurance excuse to get me" out of his practice. Decision to order Statins so indiscriminately will HARM MANY & INCREASE MEDICAL & MEDICARE COSTS. Decision may help many, but also HARM MANY.

All Patients should educate themselves online at Mayo Clinic.com or other reputable sites. Learn if you are legitimately "at substantial risk." If not BEWARE, your health could be unnecessarily & severely compromised. (and perhaps permanently!)

I had previously been VERY FIT & ACTIVE. Since I was recklessly, needlessly prescribed Statins & antibiotics in Quinolone Family I am in so much pain, limited Stamina that I am unable to engage in the usual healthy exercise the way I could prior to taking these damaginging rxs. Daily, routine exercise is necessary for good cardio health! Perhaps a Genetic Test is necessary to determine which of us have ADVERSE REACTIONS to many RXs. I have known & TOLD EACH OF MY DOCTORS since I was age 22-24. Am now age 72. So it's 40 YEARS LATER & STILL MDS DO NOT LISTEN, EVEN WHEN forewarned & requested no specific RXs! I would easily, naturally be more physically active if NOT FOR STATINS, QUNOLONES, etc. THUS My cardio & stamina would NOW be in better shape. Watch out! Follow the money.

When I first heard mention of this on the hourly news on the radio, I was convinced the news reader had left something out. Surely all of the recent research would be pointing toward a decrease in the number of statin prescriptions, not an increase. Some further reading yesterday evening left me in disbelief.

Having said that, given the direction of U.S. health care/insurance coverage/Big Brother, good luck escaping the upcoming news from your doctor. We now know that keeping one's doctor was not as easy as some politicians had made it out to be. Conversely, it just became easier for your doctor not to "keep" you.

Given the patent absurdity of these "guidelines" it is obvious that this is a "payoff" from a corrupt administration to the corrupted pharmaceutical industry for not fighting the passage of the ACA.

This, folks, is our tax money in action.

I'm a 78 yowm on pravastatin 5 yrs, otherwise healthy. Was taking 40 mg generic made in India. Switched to 20 mg made in Israel a year ago. Result: significant decrease in fatigue, lethargy, mental fog, etc. and actually got better numbers - +5 HDL, -12 LDL. Stopped taking for about 10 weeks and began to experience decrease in side effects - no change in HDL, LDL went up about 15 but total still well under 200. Internist insisted I return to Rx. I will continue to tolerate the negative effects. I am, however, greatly disturbed that current newspaper articles and TV do NOT mention recent solid evidence of direct causal connection between statins and cataracts

they are just trying to sell their product to put bucks in their pockets (the pharmacy mafia). no way I don't believe any thing unless I do my home work first.

I wonder if I am the only person to see the article in today's newspaper re: the new guidelines on cholesterol drugs? If you have not seen it, I would like to give you a quote I found very eye opening. It reads: "Roughly half the cholesterol panel members have financial ties to makers of the drugs, but panel leaders said no one with industry connections could vote on the recommendations." These new guidelines are rubbish as far as I am concerned and will only continue to line the pocket of the drug companies. I find the side effects far out way any good they "might" do. Whoever chose the "magic" numbers our cholesterol should be to start with?

Thanks for publishing this, I read it in the paper and thought, this cannot be true.

I was on pravastatin and felt like I was in a mental fog all of the time and also had leg pain and weakness which I was able to help this by taking CoQ10. I went out of town for 10 days and forgot my pravastatin. After a several days I felt more alert and legs were not hurting or as weak, but didn't connect it to the drug until I got home and started the drug again and back came the mental fog and leg pain. I am walking a mile a day again and best of all thinking clearly. I also am sticking to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and limited meat.

I sure wish I could have you for a doctor. Your sensible honesty is both refreshing and correct. Would that there were more physicians like you. In my state (WI) we have a very large organization that monopolizes health care. No original thinking allowed here.

My mother was in her 80s and with a cholesterol of 290. The doctors tried for a year or two to reduce this number but eventually said "You are in your 80s, healthy, and with no other health issues. Apparently what you are doing is working well. Who am I to tell you what to do." She stopped the statin and lived to be 92 and was basically healthy until the last couple of months.

One of my current doctors said that 50% of his heart patients have normal cholesterol levels and my grand parents live on fatty foods and never had any heart issues. So we need better studies to determine what really causes heart issues.

I am male aged 71. I am not an actuary.

The Social Security Actuarial Life Table at http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html says that of 71,090 of us out of 100,000 are alive at 71 and that 46,376 will be alive at age 81. That means 34% of us will die, actuarially speaking, before reach 81. OR, on the positive side 66% of the 71,090 of us will still be living.

If I go year by year, according to SSA, by chance of dying each year starts at about 3% and increases to about 8% by the time I am 81.

The University of Maryland Heart Center Heart Disease Risk Calculator at http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/heart_disease_risk.asp says that I have a 25% chance of death from heart disease within 10 years. That is if I remain untreated. I don't know how my risk grows each year.

Other causes must be 75% with cancer probably being also close to 25%.

Why take stuff that can mess up my quality of life? I'd rather focus on quality of life -- doing things that I like.

I remember the sign on an oncologist's door that read "Six months in the middle of our life does not seem like much time. Six months at the end of our life does." I don't agree with that sentiment at my age.

Thus, the question is -- how many months of quality life might be added if I use statins?

I would probably be prescribed a statin based on the "new guidelines" but I will not take them. I am healthy. My heart is healthy and has been studied through echo cardiograms, stress tests, monitors and other checks, because I have an occasional irregular heart rate, which my cardiologist says is electrical and just something to live with and I'm in no danger. I saw him last week and he did not think I need statins. I am active, biking over 35 miles a week and walking everywhere. I currently take NO drugs. There is no heart disease history in my family.

I read that over 50% of the doctors contributing to the "new" guidelines just released work for pharmaceutical companies. Talk about a conflict of interest !! What's worst of all… there's absolutely no evidence out there that statins save lives of otherwise healthy older individuals. The doctors assume things not in evidence. There is also newer evidence coming out of studies that question the role of cholesterol and is not nearly so clear as to causes and effects. In fact, many experts are worried that they've been barking up the wrong tree as to what actually causes heart problems and that to focus just on cholesterol numbers is a false pathway, or at least incomplete.

I'm 66 and have tried several different statins in the past. Got brain fog from them, diabetes and painful cramping. I want nothing to do with them. I'm sure doc will give them to me again. And if we don't take them and have some changes... they will refuse insurance or something. Or maybe increase cost of insurance. Whatever! Cholesterol is around 200... but not good enough - for them.

Over several years I tried 3 or 4 different statins. They all gave me leg pains. The last one, Crestor, made me dizzy and made my brain foggy. I switched to Zetia and have no problems, but my drug plan constantly is trying to get me to switch to a generic statin. Statins are NOT harmless and I am upset that they are making these recommendations!!

I wonder whether we have passed the tipping point of medicine. It seems that there are so many drugs, procedures, and surgeries available, that a patient has to be constantly on guard AGAINST the practitioner who is supposed to be helping. I thought I had made myself clear to my doctors, and they have been easing off on the gloom-and-doom information, but I'm sure that these new recommendations will energize them again.

I'm particularly sorry to hear that it will reflect poorly on any individual doctor who doesn't prescribe statins; that will really motivate them to push the issue. I have tried statins, had bad reactions, and I don't see myself doing that again. This sounds like really bad news for the medical consumer.

I tried satins and found them to be very destructive to my health. I was unable to go up and down stairs. The American Heart Association does not want to bite the bullet and really tell people what is healthy to eat. Just a little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt, a little bit of fat, a few alcoholic drinks, a few sugar free drinks with aspartame and pretty soon you are not doing very well. Look elsewhere for good health. The book Eat to Live by Furhman is a good start.

just remember, folks: big Pharma is our FRIEND and would NEVER do anything to harm us . . . unless there's a buck to be made.

We need to look at the dismal history of previous treatment standards and medical dogma. Is medicine becoming more like politics or voodoo rather than science? It seems that what we get are opinions and beliefs rather than evidence-based medicine. Remember the previous treatment standards and medical dogma:

1. Bacteria doesn't cause stomach ulcers.
2. Vioxx and Celebrex will stop arthritis pain without side effects.
3. Hormone replacement therapy will protect the heart and bones of menopausal women while stopping hot flashes.
4. High-dose steroids will stop low-back pain.
5. The Adkins diet will make your cholesterol and triglycerides skyrocket.
6. Statin drugs don't cause muscle pain; you're just getting older.

My family members were "victims" of most of the above over the years.

Some opinions are so strongly accepted that peer pressure keeps anyone from even testing what proves to be a bogus belief. People who support the contrary belief are ridiculed, even though years and years later they are proven to be correct. Listen to the People's Pharmacy radio shows or web site articles about any of the above topics.

This new statin treatment standard will likely remain in effect for 5-10 years and only then will be revoked if overwhelming evidence of harm to patients is accumulated. The review board ignored what evidence we have now of (1) benefit only in males who have suffered a previous heart attack and (2) many reports of harm and discomfort. Will anyone undertake the massive study required to prove undeniable harm or ineffectiveness? Will the government fund a study that challenges the treatment standard that it helped create?

I had an incident of transient global amnesia (see spacedoc.com). My statin drug may have been a cause of this incident. Statin drugs can have bad side effects.

I was taking the minimum dose of simvastatin. With my doctor's permission, I experimented taking 1/2 the minimum dose and then 1/4 the dose. My cholesterol numbers stayed low with all doses. My point is that even lowest recommended dosages may be unnecessarily high. If you must take a statin, experiment with lower doses.

My husband was put on statins for almost five years back in the late '90's and into 2000. The result was, at first, terrible muscle pain and joint pain, then GERD, then a removal from statins and a round of niacinamide which produced the same dreadful, debilitating muscle pain and weakness. He then took statins again for a short time. He now suffers from non-diabetic peripheral neuropathies with accompanying pain and muscle cramping, lack of muscle tone and weakness, stiffness so that if he tries to stretch, a muscle tears, short term memory loss, and other physical disabilities that three of his doctors, including his cardio physician at Baylor, attribute to statins. He will never take them again, but the damage is done and appears to be irreversible.

There is also evidence in research now that statins contribute to macular degeneration and other alarming issues and illnesses of age, including dementia. Why on earth would any sane person want another person to take such a drug, and why would any sane person take it? This is a direct result of the panel of doctors who decided to practically recommend putting this stuff in drinking water being in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies who are making $gazillions off ruining people's minds, bodies, and lives. I remember what the pharmacology professor told each class of medical students at the University of Pennsylvania. He said that if they did not remember anything else from his class, they should remember that every drug is a deadly poison. My own doctor told me that if he had to read the side effects of every medication, he would never prescribe another as long as he lived.

Cholesterol is an essential to the continuing creation and health of the myelin that coats our nerves throughout our bodies; essential to our brains, for crying out loud! I would agree that an LDL of 190 and above is probably too high, but my husband and I know that cholesterol can be kept within good limits by eating walnuts and avocados, using NatureMade's Cholest-Off, plant sterols in other forms, exercising, and a low HDL can be raised with exercise and stress management. Eating fresh food and eating REAL food like butter, eggs, non-GMO-ed corn and vegetables and fruit and nuts with treats in green tea, dark chocolate, real oatmeal, etc will help maintain health.

I did notice that the medical profession and FDA want to limit salt, sugar, and give everyone statins, but they don't want to ban high fructose corn syrup, margarine, manufactured foods, and GMO -ed products, Chinese chicken, corn fed beef, and other questionable products that are mistakenly called food in this benighted country!

My husband suffers terribly from the neuropathies and his loss of memory keeps us from sharing simple experiences we have on a daily basis in our life together. He and I agree that neither of us will ever take a statin for any reason no matter what. We wouldn't wish John's problems on our worst enemy.

One group that should be mentioned: diabetic children!

My 15 year old diabetic child was slightly over on LDL (103 - the new guidelines for diabetic children were under 100). Our endocrinologist wrote a prescription for a statin! We refused to put her on it. Even the PA was on our side.

The new guidelines would be not to treat diabetic children with statins. Good!

Please, if you can, find out who provides the funding for the doctors who are recommending this. There was not any disclosure regarding funding for these people, their department(s), university, or agency. As you know, this is important information; goes to credibility.

I am a 67 year old female, cholesterol consistently between 200 and 240 although I am careful with my diet and exercise regularly. Many years ago when a doctor (in the U.S.) tried to put me on statins, I got a second opinion (from a doctor abroad). He said that in the U.S. statins are overprescribed.

Apparently there are five things that should be considered before putting a person on statins. The best I can remember is: 1) cholesterol number, 2) weight, 3) smoker or non, 4) exercise or not, 5) diet. He said that since only ONE of these five factors applied to me, I should not be on any drugs for cholesterol. Other than that number, I am in good health, and only take vitamins, no meds of any kind. As per many other comments, it appears to be all about the money, not about health.

1)high blood cholesterol levels are indicative, not causative.
2) statins have very serious side effects.
3) better ways are easily and cheaply available to "lower cholesterol" by treating the cause. healthy diet, free of irritants and toxins, like chlorine, bromine, gluten or dairy possibly, and noise; and rich in garlic and other heart-healthy herbs and foods, good oils, laughter, sleep, yoga, peaceful mealtimes, enough iodine and other trace minerals, and vitamin D... and so many other good "lifestyle" changes that benefit every cell of the body, and our emotions too.

Again as always, all the gratitude and respect in the world to the Graedons.

This is the reason I have not been to a doctor in about 8 years. Doing fine. By the way the warning given on TV and in other places that their advice is not as good as a doctor's treatment is mandated by the FDA or AMA or other medical beauracrcy (at least I think I am right on this, not sure). Maybe People's Pharmacy will correct me if this is wrong. If you have a good doctor you are lucky. Many are just interested in the money. Not all.

You said it perfectly:"leave me alone!" And just say "NO."

I was placed on Statins several years ago and after a few months experienced muscle and nerve problems which stopped my daily walking. Also developed memory problems attributed to the statin. Now, with a new doctor, I was prescribed a newer statin again with the promise it was a better drug. After 3 to 4 days on the drug my leg muscles became weak, my back muscles froze up during walking and I stopped them immediately. Several days later I'm now back to feeling really good. Why don't doctors listen to us?

When I heard the teasers at the beginning of the natl. Newscast about new findings thru a new study on cholesterol, I said to my husband, "finally! The real truth is out on statins. " my jaw dropped when the opposite followed-the number of people on statins needed to be increased. My doc tried me on most of them. I gave them all a fair chance. After two days on any one of them I had terrible brain fog, difficulty managing stairs, fatigue. Felt like a spectator in my own life. Feared getting behind the wheel that my response time was diminished. Got off, took three to four days to recover.

I am otherwise healthy, eat mostly a Mediterranean diet. After the last trial, same results, told my doc I conclude that I am statin intolerant. I would rather lead a vibrant life and pray for the best, than be a vegetable with "good numbers." Every doc should read "the great cholesterol myth" by Dr. Sinatra and Jonny Bowden. Dr. Agatston "The south Beach Diet" is of the same mindset.

The pharma mafia is all about the bottom line. It doesn't matter how they get there. I am a geriatric nurse. I often wonder if the seniors that are my charges would benefit from discontinuing at least statins. Problem is that these poor souls docs often times do not reevaluate the list of meds that a particular resident is on. Status quo seems to be the norm.

My husband is type 2 diabetic, has liver issues from Vietnam. Statins will never be on his radar, as long as I am alive. My dietitian daughter is starting to be of the same mindset as her mother. It's too bad that money has been the driving force of pharmaceutical companies.

In the end, the hippocratic oath says do no harm. In that vain, docs need to do more research before jumping on the bandwagon. Since they may not have the time, we need to do our own research, print it and give to our docs-the "cliffs's notes".

I think my doc thinks I am nuts. I DO get fired up about these type of things. Cholesterol research has been my obsession. I am now using amaranth as a snack. I also started using the elixir comprised of apple cider vinegar, white grape juice and apple juice. My cholesterol dropped 20 points in six weeks. I am satisfied with these results.

Just saying "No" is not easy for some when the doctor either makes you feel guilty or tries to scare you with the word's "Your a high risk of dying or being disabled by a stroke." We all need to take proactive steps educating ourselves in nutrition, exercise,and controlling stress. But we and doctors need to understand for some people poor health can happen even to the best of us.

Perhaps in ten years we will be sitting around watching late night TV and a commercial will pop up. "Do you or someone you know have permanent physcial damage from long term statin use?" "If you do, call 1-800-SUE-THEM for a free telephone consultation!"

Seriously though, stranger things have happened.

Thanks so much for this article and the comments.
I suppose the crazy guidelines will appear here, in Sweden, sooner or later.

I have not taken any statins nor will I.
I think it`s essential to read books and patient stories, visit different sites and try to make up your own mind.

One of the sites that I like to visit is drmalcolmkendrick.org.

Malcolm Kendrick is a doctor/author from Scotland and I often laugh when I read his serious texts.

I just saw that he has written about the new guidelines.
The title of the article is:
"They have now, officially, all gone mad?"


Some folks just cannot tolerate Statins. I'm 45 and in great shape and figured I could tough out the symptoms. After several major muscle tears, weekly migraines and extreme (mind-blowing) leg cramps I've given up on them. It's a real shame because I probably need them. I was above 300 and got down below 120. The drug companies need to work on this a little more.

In 2004, my husband (since deceased) was prescribed Lipitor by his endocrinologist at OSU Medical Center. He'd been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia in March 2003. I had changed his diet to one of low glycemic foods, with an occasional treat, and had kept his a1C in a good range. I also added fish oil, a B-Complex and a good multivitamin. His cholesterol came down to an acceptable number. His blood pressure was never high -- always low. I had read of the hazards of Lipitor and told him and his endocrinologist that he needed to adjust his diet first. His doctor said that he felt Jim had done all he could there. I told him that I was the one with him every day and there were adjustments that could be made. Jim didn't take the Lipitor, started taking a walk a day and took two fish oil capsules. Within three months, his levels were all good enough that there was no more talk of statins.

Jim passed away in May 2007 of squamous cell carcinoma.

Let me just say how invaluable your program is to me. I listen to you more than my doctor. With regard to statins in the latest medical guidelines, we tend to put a lot emphasis on its side effects that we physically experience, but what about those that we are unaware of or we don't seem to evaluate, and what about its interaction with other medicines that I am taking, which our sciences are yet to discover?

This is what is bothering me. I am already skeptical about taking pills for any reason...

AC, to clarify, your total cholesterol and total LDL cholesterol are two different things. If your total cholesterol is 200, it is highly unlikely that your LDL is greater than or even close to 190.

Statins work for me with no noticeable side effects.
I had cholesterol levels of about 220 with HDL in the 40s. I tried changing my diet and exercising and it didn't help. I started taking statins in 1997 and my total cholesterol dropped to 170s and HDL rose to the 70s.

I have had no side effects that I am aware of. I stopped for a year to see if I should continue. I didn't notice any physical or mental changes but my levels shot right back to where they had been.

I went back on a statin, my levels returned to the good levels and have been there ever since.

The only risk factors I have for cardiovascular disease are my age (71 yrs) and the fact that my mother dropped dead of a heart attqck at age 74. I eat a heart-healthy diet and get a moderate amount of exercise. The doctor thinks I am doing everything right; but, my total cholesterol is 250 and my LDL is 150. I don't know what else I can do to lower these figures; but, I will never take statins.

At age 44, I just had a stent placed due to a 97.8% blocked LAD artery. My Dr. immediately prescribed Crestor 20mg along with other drugs. So far, I have no side effects to the medication. My father in law has taken statins for @15 years. He has no side effects that he is aware of.

Are we the only 2 people who have no side effects from taking statins? It seems like we are from listening to today's show. I believe the show did a disservice to those people who likely should be taking statins. I agree with the Graedons that item 4 of the guidelines is controversial, but what about the other 3, especially item 1. Do statins do no good?

People's Pharmacy response: For people like you, statins can be very helpful. As we stated several times during the show, there is no controversy about statins being appropriate for people with heart disease.

And it is not true that you and your father-in-law are the only ones without side effects. When statins were initially introduced, doctors were amazed at how "well-tolerated" they were. So the side effects didn't become apparent until a lot of people started taking them.

Kudos to all those who have improved their cardiac profile with lifestyle changes! Treating or avoiding disease with lifestyle changes should always be the preferred method.

However, what do you think should happen to all those who can't/won't modify their diet? I know from personal experience just how difficult it is.

I see people around me daily whose diets are atrocious even though they have high blood pressure, type II diabetes, pockets of cholesterol under their eyes, and/or full-blown heart disease. With 30% of the U.S. population overweight or obese, SOME kind of intervention beyond recommending a change of diet would seem to be in order. Don't forget that the U.S. is a country where many believe that they have a right to eat trans fats even if means that someone will eventually have to pry their "goodies" from their cold, dead hands after their final heart attacks. Is it any wonder that many doctors seem to despair of anyone listening to their advice with regard to diet and exercise?

Statins are sometimes the realistic choice.

I am 81. I was given Crestor 7 years ago (after taking Lipitor and a couple of others, which hurt). I was told that Crestor would be all right. After 30 days, the pain was unbearable (and having kidney stones all my life, I know what unbearable pain is). It damaged my leg muscles, which have not recuperated/come back. I can walk on flat ground, but need a rail to help pull me up steps.
I will NEVER take a statin drug again.

This business of getting the cholesterol down began with a study many years ago. Study participants who had good cholesterol in the low 200's lived a normal life span for that time. Study participants with lower numbers lived on average two years longer. Study participants with higher numbers lived less long. I think the name of the study was the Framingham Study. My good was 223, my LDL was below 60. So I got started on statins, and got the muscle aches etc, even when switched. I decided two more years of life feeling miserable from a drug which was only to keep me alive longer made no sense.

This is true of a number of drugs which are marketed only to "keep you alive longer".
I also have IDDM. BP, Kidneys, weight are fine, A1c ranges from 6.4 to 7.4. Some catacarts, minor retinopathy. I am 72, and I do not choose to "stay alive" in order to support pharma. Instead, I pay vet bills for two dogs, walk two miles a day, and eat a modified mediterranean diet because that's what my mother taught me to eat. And I like it.

The Chinese Red Yeast extract we took made us miserable. But within five days it dropped my cholesterol significantly. Several years later we heard that statins damage heart tissue. After ten years I think it is still new. Will I be required to take this or lose my health insurance? Or will it be used to determine me mentally unfit? Please send me more info on Dr. Georgirene Vladutiu (whom you mentioned in your show) doing genetic research on this.

In response to MEH who concluded in his 11-17 comment that "statins are sometimes the realistic choice." I understand where that's coming from, but after reading extensively in THE GREAT CHOLESTEROL MYTH, it seems like it's very seldom an EFFECTIVE choice. And if it CAUSEs other problems like it does for so many people, then what's the point?

My spouse and I are in our early 70's. He was having many mysterious periods of not feeling well on a regular basis. Then we came to believe (much from the guidance of what we learned from PEOPLES PHARMACY and what it lead us to read) that the still-entrenched low-fat eating is not beneficial. We started eating lots of eggs and other saturated fat along with olive oil (but NOT trans-fats), and made sugar and high carb foods our villain instead of cholesterol. Guess what! After eating this way for several months, my spouse was feeling well on a regular basis. We were amazed--and grateful.

And, yes, it took some doing. But we're actually ENJOYING what we eat.

I am glad that you have researched cholesterol. Now, as a cardiologist, I would like to know exactly what a high cholesterol does to cause CV disease. I am not being mean, but after 40 years in the business, I can not find any information to remotely suggest that cholesterol causes problems. Now, I am well aware of an association of high cholesterol with increased cardiac disease, but then 60% of heart attacks have normal cholesterol. But, did you know that statins will lower cholesterol by 40%, but that lowering is not associated with a decrease in CV risk? In fact, the only benefit from statins is in just taking the drug in circumstances associated with increase in CRP (Jupiter trial). Note that this role out of guidelines was associated with the major trademarks of the statins drugs being displayed. That means it is an advertisement.

I took several different cholesterol lowering drugs. My doctor finally settled on Lipitor. I took it for two years then developed intense leg muscle pain. I told my doctor who didn't seem concerned. I changed doctors and went off the Lipitor and the pain went away. I had also had elevated blood sugar. I don't take anything now although my current doctor suggested a high dose fish oil such as Lovaza.

My own experience with statins was getting a prescription for lipitor.

I started taking it and within a few days my wife and I both noticed I couldn't seem to remember things as well as I could just a few days prior. No pain, or at least none I can remember, but my short time memory was down in flames.

I immediately ceased taking the stuff and within a day or two I was fine... but it was quite scary. My memory is as good, or at least about as good as I remember it to be, as it ever was. But I feel I had a really close call.

And I happen to be a person who has taken all sorts of drugs, for all sorts of things, and I have a very high tolerance for just about everything. My body is very good at metabolizing and adjusting so this was a big surprise.

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