Posts Tagged ‘heart health’

Is Statin Use Worth the Risk?

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If you have high cholesterol, chances are your physician has prescribed or suggested using a statin drug.  Statin use is considered the most powerful medication currently available to help tame high levels of cholesterol.  High cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke so reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is important.

cholesterol imageAre You at Risk for a Heart Attack and Stroke?

There are many risk factors that can be used to assess your overall risk of heart attack and stroke:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • weight
  • exercise habits
  • age
  • family history
  • current cardiovascular health

Additionally, your physician may require a cholesterol blood test to see if you have elevated blood cholesterol levels.

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have an assessment test that can predict your chances of having a heart attach in the next 10 years.  If you are at risk, there are several guidelines that focus on who would benefit most from statin therapy.

Four Groups of People Which Would Benefit from Statin Therapy

  1. Those people who have cardiovascular disease.  This includes people who have a) had a heart attack, b) stroke, c) mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks), d) arm or leg artery disease or e) surgery to open or replace coronary arteries.
  2. Those people who have very high LDL cholesterol.  This includes people who have LDL cholesterol levels of 190 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
  3. Those people who have diabetes AND an LDL cholesterol of 70 mg/dl or higher.
  4. Those people with a 10 year risk of heart attack of 7.5 percent and LDL above 100 mg/dl.

Potential Side Effects of Statin Use

  1. Muscle Issues – If you are older, female or of Asian descent or have liver, kidney or muscle disease, or an under active thyroid, you may be at risk for muscle problems when using a statin.
  2. Increase in blood sugar levels that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Elevated liver enzymes

It is important to discuss the benefits and risks with your physician.  If you decide to take a statin, your physician may look for ways to reduce future side effect risk, such as recommending blood tests for deficiencies in Vitamin D or Q10 and conducting a physical exam with additional blood testing as needed.

The easiest and most effective guidelines recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle for heart attack and stroke prevention.  It is also helpful to minimize other risk factors such as high blood pressure.  Lastly, add exercise to your healthy lifestyle and you will decrease your risk of all cardio vascular disease.

Take control of your health; test frequently to ensure your cholesterol levels are within normal range and discuss any abnormalities with your physician.

Recommended reading:

Statin Guidelines

American Heart Association – cholesterol


A recent study, published in the American Heart Association Journal, Stroke, studied Japanese men and women and reported that both coffee and green tea can help cut the risk of suffering a stroke.

The research discovered that the more green tea a person drank, the more it reduced the risk of suffering a stroke.  The study showed an almost 20% lower risk of stroke in green tea drinkers versus those that did not or rarely drank green tea.  Similarly, coffee drinkers only needed one cup per day to receive the same 20% decrease in the risk of stroke during the 13 year follow-up period.

tea benefits

What is the Science?

Green tea contains compounds called catechins.  Catechins are known to regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow through an anti-inflammatory response.  Likewise, coffee has caffeine and quinides compounds that affect our health positively although through a different mechanism.

Note that many of these studies that refer to tea and coffee as good dietary practices do not include those drinks that are laden with fat and sugar.  There has been an increase in both tea and coffee consumption, but those extra large lattes and teas can contain high amounts of fat and sugar when cream, milk and sugar are included.  The US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion states that a 6-ounce cup of black coffee contains just 7 calories. Add some half & half and you’ll get 46 calories. If you flavor a liquid nondairy creamer, that will set you back 48 calories. A teaspoon of sugar will add about 23 calories.

Regular coffee, sans the heavy cream & sugar has been linked to a range of benefits that reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes and to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.

Be cautioned:  drinking coffee and tea is not cause and effect as there may be other lifestyle habits amongst java and tea drinkers that lead to reduced risk of disease.  So if you currently drink a cup ‘o joe or have some tea, there’s no need to stop.  If you don’t, maybe enlist a friend for some tea, that is, after you do your exercise and eat your healthy meal.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.