As the umbrella covering potential statin (cholesterol lowering drugs) consuming customers grows larger and larger, profits for the pharmaceutical giants continue to soar into the billions. These profits also naturally extend to the middle man, your neighborhood MD. With so many vested hands in the pot, one cannot help but question the expanding prescribing parameters in an attempt to determine whether or not the drug is absolutely necessary on an individual basis; especially with a drug that carries such an extensive list of potential systemic side effects:
This topic is extensive, and we’ve actually touched on different aspects in the past:
Today we will shed some light on the false interpretations of a flawed calculation based upon on an individual’s lipid panel (blood work consisting of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc.).
One of the main numbers utilized to determine the need for a statin is your LDL, more commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” Easy to grasp right? As a patient you receive an official print out that shows your HDL or good and your LDL or bad right there in black and white. Easy to read and comply to statin use in order to change the “bad” numbers.
First you must know that cholesterol is not all bad, but rather a necessity for proper brain function, hormone production, internal vitamin D genesis and more. It is also a form of LDL that delivers the cholesterol to the necessary destination to perform these vital functions. As far as achieving the objective of changing the numbers on a print out, statins are successful as they block the ability of the liver to make all cholesterol, thus lowering your numbers. SUCCESS!
Many different ways we can go here, but let’s stick to the basic interpretation of the test results that leads to the prescription in the first place. Most physicians rarely order the specific tests to actually measure LDL, but rather rely on an outdated and limited equation to calculate the number. This equation is based upon your total cholesterol, triglycerides (TGL) and HDL. It’s accuracy is also highly contingent upon other individually specific variables such as insulin resistance, diet (nothing to do with dietary cholesterol consumption), and other genetic variances. It also only works in successfully calculating an accurate LDL value if in fact your TGL and HDL numbers fall in a specific range to begin, otherwise the results of the equation have been shown to be off.
So if you don’t fit just right into the tiny box of necessary equation specifics, the calculated LDL results are inaccurate and more often then not, create the illusion of a qualifier for another statin customer. To add to the blurred lines, there are two types of LDL, with one being vital for optimal function, and one being potentially problematic, paving the way for the most common issue correlated with high cholesterol: atherosclerosis. This calculation does nothing to differentiate between the two.
To even to begin to attempt to obtain a more accurate picture of this critical LDL value, you have two options. In addition to the comprehensive lipid panel, the test must also include a measurement of apoproteinB, or the use of nuclear magnetic resonance testing (NMR), as both provide a more accurate picture of the LDL value that is relied so heavily upon to determine the need for a statin.
As stated, this topic runs deep. At this point we could easily steer the discussion towards just what causes the accumulation of very small or bad LDL (again, nothing to do with dietary cholesterol) and what can easily be done to reverse and prevent it. However, the information provided above serves as yet another piece of the puzzle that can be utilized to play a more active and intelligent role in your own health.
Just another quick note as to why this is so important: as noted earlier statins are being prescribed to more and more people, old and young and now being recommended by some to be consumed as a preventive measure, even if your numbers are “good.” Among other things, statin use has been correlated with an increased risk of diabetes as it essentially destroys a key part of your metabolic processing factory, the liver. Among other things, diabetes has been correlated with an increased risk of dementia, with Alzheimer’s even being dubbed “diabetes type III.” Keep in mind this is just one aspect of the deleterious effects of statin use and another glaring example of the need to become more educated and take an active role in your own fate.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other aspect of your health and would like to explore your options based upon a firm comprehension of human physiology and how to naturally alter that in your favor, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time, in any way.
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