Heart disease and related cardiovascular diseases claim nearly half a million lives in this country each year. There’s no wonder why doctors and medical researchers have grasped onto a pharmaceutical to fight this killer.
Statin drugs like Lipitor are the most-prescribed drugs in the country. Statins work by inhibiting your body’s natural cholesterol production. And make no mistake, they do work to lower cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol levels mean a lower risk of heart attack for people who have cardiovascular disease
But there are questions about statins. Two of these questions are very important to your health. First, what are the risks of taking statins? Second, is there a better, safer way to fight heart disease?
Nothing in Life is Free—That’s Especially True of Drugs
Most pharmaceuticals work by altering your body’s natural chemical processes. They come with a price—sometimes a high price—in the form of other health risks.
Statin drugs are no exception. When you begin taking a statin, you face three primary risks.
Liver Damage: Statin drugs can affect liver function. If they do and you continue to take them, they can damage your liver. Your doctor will monitor your liver function through blood tests.
Muscle Weakness: Statin drugs inhibit the process of cholesterol function in the body. They also disrupt your body’s production of coenzyme Q10. Without adequate CoQ10, your muscles won’t function as well. You may feel achy or weak. This is a common side affect of statins, but it can lead to a much more serious condition, so let your doctor know about any muscle pain.
Cognitive Decline: This is not a well-known affect of statins, but for some people, they cause a loss of mental clarity. They can make you forgetful. They can make it hard for you to make decisions. They can impair your ability to perform complex tasks. In some cases, they can affect your ability to do your job.
Safer Ways to Fight Heart Disease
Now let me just say, that while I prefer natural alternatives to dangerous drugs, there are situations that call for treatment with drugs. I’ve met patients in such a dangerous health situation, that I determined statins were necessary for a time.
I think that responsible doctors seek to treat these situations with the lowest effective dose of drugs possible for as short a time as possible. That means I work with my patients to remove their need for the drug… in other words, we try to find natural solutions to replace the drug.
In the case of heart disease, I work with my patients to change their diet, improve their lifestyle, and add in natural supplements that have proven to safely fight heart disease. The two supplements that every person at risk for or dealing with heart disease should take are omega-3 fatty acids and CoQ10.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The best source of this supplement is fish oil capsules or cod liver oil. Omega-3s help your heart to keep a normal, steady rhythm, they reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, and they lower other risk factors like triglycerides, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Coenzyme Q10: Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body. Muscles need CoQ10. CoQ10 improves the function of the endothelial lining—that’s the membrane in your arteries that helps them to relax. It improves the function of your heart. And it reduces oxidative stress. If you and your doctor determine you should take a statin, it’s important to take CoQ10, too, since statins lower your natural level of CoQ10.
Heart disease is a dangerous and prevalent disease. You have to decide with the help of your doctor what the best treatment is for you. It’s important to know the risks and the safe alternatives, so that you can make the best-informed decision possible.
Mark Rosenberg, MD
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