All about Cholesterol-lowering Medications

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For decades, cholesterol has been one of the biggest boogie-men in medicine, blamed for hardening arteries, heart ailments and more.

Almost every person in the Western World has had their arm jabbed with a needle at some point to test their cholesterol levels. Generally, an elevated level would lead to a prescription medication to lower the cholesterol level in the body.

Too much cholesterol in the blood has been linked to heart attack and stroke, as well as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), but cholesterol is also something that everyone needs.

Cholesterol is the “glue” that helps hold our bodies together. It is used in making new cell membranes and in nerve synapses in the brain.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Actually, there are two kinds of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol is the one that is causes plaque deposits in arteries, while HDL helps remove those potentially harmful deposits.

To simplify the picture, HDL can be considered to be the good guy, LDL the bad one, and the really ugly ones are probably the cholesterol-lowering medications themselves. Once a diagnosis of elevated cholesterol is found, doctors will usually rush to prescribe a statin drug. These drugs actually keep your body from naturally producing cholesterol.

But isn’t cholesterol needed for many important bodily functions? What happens when cholesterol drops off? Well, in fact, quite a few very nasty things can happen to you when you take statin drugs:

    • Your cognitive function drops. This means you won’t be able to think as well as you have, and you will have memory problems.
    • A lack of cholesterol has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Profound muscle damage can occur from taking statins. This can cause pain and weakness and can even lead to kidney failure.
    • Statins can also cause liver damage and jaundice.
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, flatulence and cramps are common.

What Else Can Be Done?

The laundry list of statin-caused misery above is probably enough to raise the hair on anyone’s head. Fortunately, there are other ways to keep the bad cholesterol reined in.

The first way is by a change in dietary habits. If you believe that an increased blood insulin level could be causing your cholesterol problems, eliminating grains and most other carbohydrates could make a real difference.

Losing weight and exercising go hand in hand, and you may be able to get those numbers down without meds. A half an hour of exercise 4 or 5 days a week, combined with shedding pounds can get those LDL levels back where they belong.

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