“Millions more Americans could end up taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new recommendations released Tuesday that advocate a dramatic shift in the way doctors assess and treat cardiovascular risk,” according to the Washington Post.
“Roughly a quarter of Americans age 45 and older already take statins, which include familiar brands such as Lipitor and Zocor, to treat high cholesterol. But that number could grow sharply under far-reaching guidelines detailed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.”
The leading cause of death for Americans is heart disease. About one in every four deaths in the United States, or about 600,000 annually, are attributed to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from food. Too much cholesterol in your body increases your risk of getting heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Statins work by slowing your body’s production of cholesterol. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs by digesting food and producing new cells on its own. When this natural production is slowed, your body begins to draw the cholesterol it needs from the food you eat, lowering your total cholesterol.
“Statins may affect not only your liver’s production of cholesterol but also several enzymes in muscle cells that are responsible for muscle growth. The effects of statins on these cells may be the cause of muscle aches.”
While much media attention has been paid to the doctors’ recommendations that more Americans need to take statin drugs, not much has been written about lifestyle changes like simply improving our diet and personal health in the first place so we don’t need the drugs to save us from our reckless habits.
Some good clear-headed recommendations did come from the press conference, however. “Our recommendation is that doctors prescribe a diet to achieve reduced caloric intake as part of a comprehensive lifestyle intervention,” guideline co-author Dr. Donna Ryan, a professor emeritus at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, said during the press conference. The diet should be tailored to patient preferences and any drugs they take, she said. Continue reading