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Cholesterol Drug Prescribed for Normal Cholesterol Levels

Drug study might lead as many as 7 million more people in the U.S. alone to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs

Nov. 9, 2008
People with low cholesterol and no big risk for heart disease dramatically lowered their chances of dying or having a heart attack if they took the cholesterol pill Crestor, a large study found.    Doctors said the study might lead millions of more people, as many as 7 million more in the U.S. alone, to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, sold as Crestor, Lipitor, Zocor or in generic form.   

"This takes prevention to a whole new level, because it applies to patients who we now wouldn't have any evidence to treat," said Dr. W. Douglas Weaver, a Detroit cardiologist and president of the American College of Cardiology.

However, some doctors urged caution. Crestor gave clear benefit in the study, but so few heart attacks and deaths occurred among these low-risk people that treating everyone like them in the United States could cost up to $9 billion a year  - "a difficult sell," one expert said.

"Everybody likes the idea of prevention. We need to slow down and ask how many people are we going to be treating with drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent heart disease, versus a lot of other things we're not doing" to improve health, Hlatky said.

Statins are the world's top-selling drugs. Until this study, all but Crestor have already been shown to cut the risk of heart attacks and death in people with high LDL, or bad cholesterol. But half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal or low cholesterol, so doctors have been testing other ways to predict who is at risk.

One is high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, or CRP for short. It is a measure of inflammation, which can mean clogged arteries as well as less serious problems, such as an infection or injury. Doctors check CRP with a blood test that costs about $80 to have done.

A co-inventor on a patent of the test, Dr. Paul Ridker of Harvard, led the new study. It involved 17,802 people with high CRP and low LDL cholesterol (below 130) in the U.S. and 25 other countries.   Results showed a further decrease in LDL as well as mean decrease in CRP by 37%.

"We reduced the risk of a heart attack by 54 percent, the risk of a stroke by 48 percent and the chance of needing bypass surgery or angioplasty by 46 percent," Ridker said.

One concern: More people in the Crestor group saw blood-sugar levels rise or were newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Crestor also has the highest rate among statins of a rare but serious muscle problem, so there are probably safer and cheaper ways to get the same benefits.

This study and two other government-sponsored ones reported on Sunday "provide the strongest evidence to date" for testing C-reactive protein, and adding it to traditional risk measures could identify millions more people who would benefit from treatment, Nabel's statement says.
Source: By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer, November 9, 2008.
Dr. Iverson's Comment
This article needs to be looked at closely before we decide to “supplement” our lives with Crestor. 
Firstly, this study was funded by the company that makes Crestor giving a financial beneficial gain to its product. It is part of a family of statin drugs with popular names like Lipitor, Mevacor, and Zocor which are currently one of the most prescribed drugs with already 220.9 million prescriptions filled yearly, with 7 MILLION MORE patients expected to take them due to this study! Lipitor and Zocor were the top two selling drugs sold in the US in 2007 with $12.8 BILLION in sales! There is no way those profits would want to be compromised!
Although the pharmaceutical companies are funding these studies, it is clear that these drugs are being found effective in reducing cholesterol, inflammation, and deaths due to heart attack. Are the benefits enough to outweigh the side effects?
A major safety concern has to do with the inflammation and breakdown of skeletal muscle as well as liver and kidney damage seen in some patients taking them.  A percentage of patients in the study were more likely to become diabetic if they were taking it!  The Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is an active component of energy production in cells is also depleted by their use. 
If we look at the principles of Nature we would ask, “Does Nature provide these drugs to us in its own natural form?” Clearly, there are no trees that produce Pfizer’s Lipitor as its fruit or Merck’s Zocor as its berries! Joking I may be, but if Nature intended us to take such substances, wouldn’t they be in the foods we eat? Red Rice Yeast is a fermented product that does have naturally occurring statins, but even it would be considered a man made processed product. 
What is happening that these statins are proving effective? The study showed that these drugs not only reduced cholesterol but also C-Reactive Protein (CRP), both of these molecules can be indicators of inflammation in the blood! Cholesterol can be thought of as the body’s own band-aid. It is being produced by the liver to soothe the inflammation within the vessels. The CRP is equally produced by the liver in response to elevations of inflammation anywhere in the body. 
In a discussion found on with comments from over 200 physicians giving their opinions on statins, a common theme was not to just lower cholesterol but to lower inflammation. Looking at key factors that raise inflammation, mostly being glucose elevations due to diet of highly refined carbohydrate foods like sugar.
If the body if producing these molecules due to inflammation, why don’t we do something to treat THE INFLAMMATION? That is exactly what we look at from a natural perspective. 
Inflammation processes are recognized as the primary causal factors of disease processes. Think of inflammation as HOT, RED, BURNING, SWOLLEN, PAINFUL, a FIRE! So how do we put out a FIRE? You named it! WATER! Water is the most important solvent that we can take in regular amounts to reduce the effects of inflammation. Not coffee, not tea, not juice, not soda pop, not Gatorade or Vitamin Water, not alcohol, but WATER.
Also we want to take in foods that do not instigate inflammation, such as a wide variety of vegetables, grains, low sugar fruits, fish and wild game. Foods that are not fortified with artificial colors, flavors, stored in packages and cans, or processed.  
In addition, several supplements have shown to have a beneficial effect on inflammation including fish oils, CoQ10, Vitamin E and other antioxidants, and multiple herbal extracts including resveratrol, hawthorne, bilberry, lycopene, green tea, curcumin and grape seed extract to name a few. Red rice, as mentioned above, will act as a statin, although it is reserved for certain circumstances where the other suggestions do not bring the results required.
I encourage you to have blood testing yearly for not only a cholesterol lipid panel, but also for CRP levels as well as homocysteine and fibrinogen, which when taken together can give a nice picture of the inflammation levels. Our labs provide these tests at very affordable rates for those who are not covered by insurance. Please call to get yours checked today.
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