Management of the high cholesterol is an important topic. There are 102 million Americans with high cholesterol, according to the CDC.
Many people who are diagnosed are currently taking statin medication to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Unfortunately, statins have recently been found to modestly increase risk for diabetes.
High cholesterol levels are a concern because of the potential damage they could cause in the body. Cholesterol is measured by looking at the total cholesterol — HDL or “good” cholesterol, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
LDL is considered bad cholesterol because it contributes to higher risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. LDL cholesterol contributes the most to creating plaque in the blood vessels.
When blood vessels get damaged inside, the normal healing process can get altered if the LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood becomes trapped in the repair process of the vessel. Plaque can be created.
Plaque is dangerous because it narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to get to organs and cells of the body. This process is called atherosclerosis.
If the blood vessels of the heart get narrowed or blocked, this can cause a heart attack. Finally, if the plaque breaks off it could cause a stroke.
One medical intervention to prevent this process uses cholesterol-lowering medications called statins. These drugs have coenzyme A reductase inhibitors that lower cholesterol by blocking a step in the production of LDL cholesterol.
When patients have high cholesterol levels they are often put on statins to protect them from heart disease.
Studies are now showing that statin medications can cause increases in blood glucose levels and modestly increase the risk for diabetes in patients.
Statin medications still reduce the risk of heart disease so they are an important medication for lowering cholesterol. However, we now know we have to look at the whole health picture for patients before deciding on a recommendation.
This new information is important to help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor about whether to start taking statins or continue to take them, as part of your health care treatment plan.
Let me explain how you can use this information to your advantage.
If you are a person with high risks for heart disease and you have not been able to get your cholesterol under control with lifestyle changes, statins may be your best plan.
If you are person with a low risk of heart disease, then statins may not be your best plan because taking them might increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Studies have shown that if you are taking statins currently, then you are already getting heart health protection, so it is not indicated that you should come off them to prevent diabetes risks.
The take-home message is that for people with low cardiovascular risk, statins may not be the first best choice for lowering cholesterol.
Lifestyle modifications like diet, exercise, stress management and weight loss can bring down cholesterol levels and should be implemented. If they do not work then, statins can be a good back-up plan.
For those who are at high risk for heart disease the risk of taking statins may outweigh the risk of increasing the risk of developing diabetes, since heart disease takes more lives than diabetes.
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Dr. Dae's Bio:
Dr. Daemon Jones is your diabetes reversal, hormones, metabolism and weight loss expert. Dr. Dae is a naturopathic doctor who treats patients all over the country using Skype and phone visits. See her or schedule a free consultation at her website,www.HealthyDaes.com
Cholesterol and lifestyle: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2015.
September is National Cholesterol Education Month. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2015.
This article was originally published at www. EmpowHer.com.