A recent study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found 75% of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had LDL cholesterol within the so called safe range- below 130mg/dl. (21% of the patients were taking a statin cholesterol-lowering drug.) The study also found that 50 percent of the patients had LDL less than 100mg/dL, considered to be optimum levels. The data base used records from 541 hospitals across the country and the American Heart Journal published the study in 2009.
What is the take away here? There is the obvious take away but then there is the “how do we use this to sell more drugs?” take away. If you are a pharmaceutical company selling cholesterol lowering drugs you are thinking one way and if you are honest and a doctor or patient you should take another view. It is a serious threat to your health because the die-hards businessmen and drug companies think we are not lowering cholesterol enough!! That is completely lame. Drug companies and insurance companies want the cheapest way to treat you! But are years and years of taking drugs that cost a great deal over time coupled with the prospect of a hospitalization due to heart problems really the least expensive?
This study is important in its implications for the individual patient. The other important data to keep in mind is the steep rise in elderly people (and the not so elderly) who have developed Alzheimer’s disease. Have they taken cholesterol lowering drugs? Couple these data together and you have some answers as to what might be happening with our health profiles in this country.
In clinical practice the doctors, in a rush to see as many people as possible, take the easy way out. The guidelines and “standards of care” determine the prescription of a cholesterol lowering drug in the case of someone with “high” cholesterol or heart disease. You do not have to have much face time when you do a blood test for cholesterol and prescribe a drug and send the person on his way with advice to stop eating foods that drive cholesterol up. It is fast, cheap and easy.
Here is what should be happening; a physician with a thorough education knows the liver produces cholesterol and the body needs it for health. He knows that cholesterol is a major constituent of every cell membrane in the entire body. He knows cholesterol is protective of the nervous system and the basic building block of hormones and vitamin D. A very important substance for health! He also knows the likely causes of heart problems and looks for them. He knows heavy metals are implicated in the development of high blood pressure and found in the muscle wall of the heart at autopsy in people with some forms of heart disease. He will offer diagnostic tests that look at toxic metals and mineral nutrient status of his patients. He knows ionic calcium (not the kind in bones) gets stuck in the muscle wall of the artery and in plaque causing “hardening of the arteries”. If he is really good he will recommend or provide IV chelation therapy to lower the levels of lead, ionic calcium, antimony, cadmium and other metals throughout the vascular system improving over all circulation.