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Statins Raise Stroke Risk

February 01, 2011 | 43,247 views
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Statin DrugsAnyone who has had the type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain should avoid the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, according to researchers. The drugs increase the risk of a second stroke in these patients.

It was especially true of people who had strokes in one of their brain's four lobes, which have a greater chance of recurrence than strokes that occur deep in the brain.

People who have a stroke in one of their lobes have a 22 percent risk of a second stroke when they take statins, compared with a 14 percent risk among those not taking a statin.

According to Reuters:

"The researchers said it is not clear how statins increase the bleeding risk in these patients. It may be having low cholesterol increases the risk of bleeding in the brain, or it may be that statins affect clotting factors in the blood that increase the risk of a brain hemorrhage in these patients."

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Statin drugs are frequently prescribed like candy for tens of millions of Americans, and they're widely touted as miracle cures for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Every year tens of billions of dollars in revenue are generated by the drug cartel by sales of these mostly unnecessary drugs.

What you often don't hear reported by the media is that they also have very real, and very steep risks, and they are NOT right, nor safe, for everyone.

Case in point, a new study found that statin drugs actually increase your risk of having a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain if you've already had one before. Among such patients, the risk of a second stroke was 22 percent in those who took statins compared with 14 percent in those who did not.

There are two reasons why this might happen: the drugs may either lower cholesterol too much, to the point that it increases your risk of brain bleeding, or they may affect clotting factors in your blood, increasing the bleeding risk.

The ONE Benefit of Statins for Some People Might be Detrimental for Others

Statin drugs are vastly overprescribed and raise your risk of a variety of serious health problems, which I'll discuss shortly. However, at a longevity conference last year I had an opportunity to listen to a talk by Dr. Steven Sinatra, who is one of the best, if not the best, natural cardiologists in the world.

During his presentation he mentioned that statins do actually work to decrease heart attacks for some people, but the mechanism of action has nothing at all to do with lowering cholesterol. Rather, the benefit comes from making your blood less sticky and prone to clotting, along with potentially reducing inflammation somewhat.

This factor may actually be what raises the risk of a second hemorrhagic stroke in some people.

So for certain individuals who are at very high risk of dying from a heart attack, the drugs may be useful, but this is only true if you have heart attack risk factors (NOT if you simply have "high" cholesterol levels). It is important to note that it is also not necessary for you to remain on the drug for the rest of your life. Often you can safely go off them after a course of treatment.

So how can you tell if you're one of those who might benefit from statins?

You need to review your cholesterol/HDL ratio and triglyceride/HDL ratio. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it's a significant indicator of risk for heart disease. 

You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.

HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor, and it turns out that the reason HDL may be such a potent risk factor for heart disease has nothing at all to do with directly preventing deposits of cholesterol on your arteries.

Rather it may help to keep your blood thin and prevent blood clots that would shut off your arterial circulation. If that blood clot occurred in one or more of the arteries that supply your heart or brain you would have a heart attack or stroke (brain attack).  However, in people at risk of a brain hemorrhage, this blood thinning may not be a desirable effect.

Why You Should Not Take Statins Without Serious Consideration First

If you simply have "high" total cholesterol and your physician recommends you take a statin drug to lower your level, you need to get the facts straight before making a decision.

For starters, keep in mind that your total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is close to 330 or higher. And, perhaps more importantly, you need to be aware that cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease. If you become overly concerned with trying to lower your cholesterol level to some set number, you will be completely missing the real problem.

Further, this latest finding about increased stroke risk is only one of hundreds pointing to the very real risks of statin drugs. There are over 900 in all.

For starters, reported side effects include:

  • Muscle problems, polyneuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet), and rhabdomyolysis (a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition)
  • Anemia
  • Acidosis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Pancreas or liver dysfunction, including a potential increase in liver enzymes
  • Cataracts
  • Increased risk of food-borne illness

Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs' adverse side effects, but cognitive problems and memory loss are also widely reported. A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur. There is evidence that taking statins may even increase your risk for Lou Gehrig's disease.

Statins also lower your CoQ10 levels by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production -- the same pathway by which Q10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage your mitochondrial DNA, effectively setting into motion an evil circle of increasing free radicals and mitochondrial damage.

High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial problems, so if you have either of these conditions your risk of statin complications increases. Additionally, since statins can cause progressive damage to your mitochondria over time, and your mitochondria tend to weaken with age anyway, new adverse effects can develop the longer you're on the drug.

Unfortunately, there are no "official" warnings in the U.S. regarding CoQ10 depletion from taking statin drugs, and many physicians fail to inform you about this problem as well.

As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure, so it is imperative if you take statin drugs that you take CoQ10 or, if you are over the age of 40, the reduced version called ubiquinol.

Most People are Better Off Without Statin Drugs

That statin drugs have proliferated the market the way they have is a testimony to the power of marketing, corruption and corporate greed, because the odds are very high -- greater than 100 to 1 -- that if you're taking a statin, you don't really need it.

There are likely only two subgroups that might benefit:

  1. Those at very high risk of heart attack (based NOT on your cholesterol levels but on your heart attack risk factors)
  2. Those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes you resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol

If you are not in one of those two categories, statin drugs are most likely an unnecessary health risk you're better off avoiding -- and you definitely want to avoid the trap of taking them to lower your cholesterol when your cholesterol is actually well within a healthy range.

I have seen a number of people with total cholesterol levels over 250 who were actually at low risk for heart disease due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen many people with cholesterol levels under 200 who had a very high risk of heart disease, based on their low HDL.

Further, if you take statin drugs unnecessarily, there's a good chance your cholesterol levels will become too low, which is dangerous since your body NEEDS cholesterol -- it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function.

There is also strong evidence that having too little cholesterol INCREASES your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson's disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.

Top Tips to Optimize Your Cholesterol

The goal of the tips below is not to necessarily lower your cholesterol as low as it can go; the goal is to optimize your levels so they're working in the proper balance with your body.

Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol.

This is why my primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol have to do with modifying your diet and lifestyle as follows:

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is especially important to eliminate dangerous sugars such as fructose.
  • If your HDL/Cholesterol ratio is abnormal and needs to be improved it would also serve you well to virtually eliminate fruits from your diet, as that is also a source of fructose. Once your cholesterol improves you can gradually reintroduce fruits at levels that don't raise your cholesterol.
  • Consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of krill per day may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
  • Eat the right foods for your nutritional type. Examples of heart-healthy foods and fats include olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats as appropriate for your nutritional type.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate Peak Fitness exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.

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