• Let Your Mouth Speak For Your Heart Part 2
Posted by Joseph F. McWherter, MD on March 12, 2013
Statin drugs, the first line pharmaceutical treatment to reduce elevated LDL, act by poisoning the main cholesterol-synthesizing enzyme located in the liver. Studies suggest that these drugs have the ability to lower inflammation, as reflected by decreases in the CRP (C- reactive protein), which provides a pathway to control cholesterol levels.
Beware that the use of these cholesterol-lowering drugs carry the following risks in 20 to 25 percent of users:
- increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- liver injury
- cognitive problems
- muscle injury when used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of HIV or hepatitis C
From my personal experience on statins, my muscle aches were so intense that I would have gladly stopped the medication and taken my chances with having a heart attack rather than live in agony.
The Truth About Statins is a book by Barbara Roberts, MD, which I recommend reading before beginning statin therapy. Studies have not been unanimous in their findings that women without diagnosed heart disease benefit from statin therapy. Forty women out of 4,904 on statins either suffered a heart attack or cardiac death compared to 44 out of 4,836 on a placebo. These results are not statistically different enough, especially considering the worrisome incidence of side effects, to recommend commencement of treatment.
The best way I can describe the current overuse of statins is summarized by the proverb attributed to several writers, including Mark Twain: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I am not condemning statin usage but there needs to be a more individualized approach which takes into account a) family history, b) risk factors such as diabetes, and the c) Coronary Artery Calcium Score. Blanket treatment based solely on a woman’s LDL may cause more harm than good.
Stabilization of plaque, reduction of inflammation, and decreasing LDL are attributed to statin therapy. Depending on your unique needs, other approaches may be a better first line treatment, such as the use of supplements containing rice fermented with red Monascus fungus, Red Yeast Rice-900mg/day. Unadulterated, non-Americanized, Red Yeast Rice contains low amounts of natural statins which account for the almost 15% to 20% drop in LDL noted by my clinical observations. As with pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering drug usage, please take 100-300 mg of CoQ10 in order to help combat stain induced muscle damage.
An extremely effective way to lower LDL, inflammatory markers, and triglycerides, decrease or eliminate statin usage, lower, and raise HDL is by supplementing with highly refined Krill oil blends which contain elevated levels of phosphatidylcholine encapsulated omega-3 fatty acids and the potent anti-oxidant Astaxanthin. I prescribe a specific ultra refined krill oil product, capable of accomplishing the above, which has meet the FDA standards for designation as a medical food .
Omega 3 fatty acids are most often attributed to fish oil, but do not overlook krill Omega 3. It has the same structure but exhibits a greater cell membrane absorption capacity (enhanced bioavailability) due to being surrounded by phosphatidylcholine. Astaxanthin, which gives salmon its orange coloring, is one of nature’s most potent anti-oxidants. Its unique structure spans the entire width of the cell membrane, offering protection for both inner and outer sides. Synergistically, the phosphatidylcholine encapsulated omega 3 fatty acids, along with Astaxanthin, provide krill oil blends with better ability to quench oxidative stress and inflammation within the coronary arteries, thus lowering plaque formation. I prefer krill oil formulations which contain a marine phospholipid concentration of 540 mg and Astaxanthin levels of 2000 mcg preserving.
Ultra refined krill oil blends used in my practice have reduced LDLs by approximately 30%, raised HDLs by 8%, and lowered triglycerides by 6%. An unrelated but welcomed effect was the marked reduction in joint pain from osteoarthritis. Side effects associated with pharmaceutical statins are not present when using the specialized krill oil. It’s your choice!