Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.
One of the hottest class of drugs on the market today are the "statins." Statins inhibit an enzyme the body needs to produce cholesterol. They may also lower the risk of forming clots that can lead to heart attack or stroke and reduce inflammation of blood vessels-another risk factor for coronary artery disease. So, these drugs are used to lower an individual's "bad" LDL cholesterol, which, in turn, lowers total cholesterol levels. Since there are still too many people who choose to avoid exercise and are unwilling to limit saturated (animal) and trans (hydrogenated) fats, these drugs are a doctor's easiest course of action to decrease their inevitable risk of heart disease.
After the successful changes in lab values I've seen in only a week at the residential weight management program I designed and now coordinate I told a reporter that I believed exercise and a diet that was more plant-based could make medication unnecessary in many people who rely on drugs like statins. I received an angry letter from a cardiac physician who suggested my comment was dangerous and unwarranted. I met with this physician and was stunned at his perspective that people are not willing to change in the long term and relying on a medicine was a much better strategy than encouraging folks to exercise and choose foods more wisely. He told me that statins would soon be available over the counter and my program would be history.
This week a 10-milligram version of Merck's popular statin drug Zocor hit the shelves in pharmacies in Britain. Zocor is the first cholesterol drug in the world to be sold over the counter. The 10 mg. over the counter dose is half of the usual starting prescription dose used in the U. S.
I have mixed feelings about this development. First of all, I believe this decision may have been economically driven. In the UK, the government helps pay for prescription drugs but not those available over the counter. I also know that the low-dose version of the drug would be inadequate for most patients. Most of all I continue to believe that lifestyle changes is the way to go for long term health. Taking medication is like putting a finger in a dam. Drugs that do good also often do harm. Additionally, taking a pill fixes symptoms. It doesn't address underlying problems.
Statins are, indeed, miracle drugs. New research shows they also seem to be a useful strategy for folks with osteoporosis or MS. They seem to have few side effects although long term studies are still inconclusive. When combined with other cholesterol lowering strategy they can be very effective. If you are on a statin you need to be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking any supplements that might interact with your prescription.
If you have a genetic predisposition to a high cholesterol these drugs are a valuable adjunct to your daily exercise and wise food choice lifestyle. If you're using them in lieu of that healthy way of life I believe you should rethink your way of living. Our bodies are designed for movement and like a car that won't run well on poor quality gas, ours run better with the high quality food delivered by a healthy diet.
I choose health.
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