Two years ago, I reported on an article that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association about primary care, internal medicine, and geriatrics doctors who take care of patients over 70. These doctors observed nothing but problems and no benefits in their patients who took cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. So, they stopped recommending or prescribing them to their older patients. They assumed there must be some reason why doctors still give them to younger patients, given the boom business in these drugs. But as for their older patients — nevermore!
Now the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is finally catching up to these real doctors and confronting the same truth: Statins make no sense for older adults. (Of course, they don’t make a lick of sense for younger adults either, as I’ll explain in a moment.)
Read between the lines for the REAL news on statins
I came across a report on this “new” finding on a mainstream website. But the headline read, “Task Force Recommends Statins for Adults under 75 with Risk Factors.” This misleading headline forces us to read between the lines that we should stop giving these dangerous drugs to older people! The headlines should have read, “Task Force Recommends Stopping Statins for Adults Over 75 Years.”
For this report, the task force assessed 18 clinical trials that examined statin effects in adults older than age 40 years. Overall — they found evidence that a low-to-moderate dose of stains in adults 40 to 75 does cause harm. But they said the cardiovascular benefits in this group outweigh the harms.
On the other hand, they couldn’t determine whether benefits outweigh the harms in older patients. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. No treatment always works as well in older adults as it does in younger people.
Along those same lines, some experts argue screening of blood lipid levels early in life leads to earlier diagnosis and treatment, which should therefore reduce cardiovascular disease in later adulthood. However, the task force found insufficient evidence that universal screening early in life outperforms selective screening based on the individual patient.
The task force also recommended doctors stop screening children and adolescents under the age of 20 for cholesterol or lipid disorders altogether. Thus, there is no basis to give statin drugs to young people. Ever. Period.
In fact, all the efforts to control cholesterol with statin drugs isn’t helping with a major, growing cardiovascular disease problem in adolescents, young adults, and middle-aged adults. The stroke rate of Americans ages 15 to 44 years has actually skyrocketed by 53 percent in recent years. And at the same time, men and women under 65 now make up 31 percent of the strokes that occur in this country, up from 25 percent.
Real heart disease risk factors hiding in plain sight
Of course, trying to prevent cardiovascular disease by controlling cholesterol with statin drugs puts the emphasis on the wrong interventions.
So what are the right things to focus on to reduce your cardiovascular disease risk?
- Reduce high blood pressure
High blood pressure remains a huge risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, as I always warn. You can take effective, safe, generic medications to lower blood pressure. These generic drugs have been around for a long time and have stood the test of time.
You can also effectively lower your blood pressure with non-drug approaches. For, example, meditation is a safe and effective way to lower blood pressure. You don’t have to enter a Buddhist Monastery to meditate effectively. And you can undertake it almost any time in your busy life. You can learn more about how to incorporate meditation into your daily life in my book with Don McCown, New World Mindfulness.
In the meantime, to learn which non-drug approach will work best for you, take this short quiz to determine your “emotional type.”
Of course, as I explained last week, you don’t need to cut salt to lower your blood pressure. In fact, a recent study showed men and women who follow a strict, low-salt diet run double the risk of disability and death from cardiovascular disease.
Overall, you will get better results cutting sugars and carbs. You’ll reduce your blood pressure and lose weight, which will reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and Type II diabetes. Of course, controlling blood sugar is key for preventing today’s cardio-metabolic heart disease. I find it interesting — doctors pay attention to controlling blood sugar to manage Type II diabetes and its complications. But they don’t seem to realize the importance of controlling blood sugar for preventing cardiovascular diseases as well.
- Control inflammation
Many experts think chronic inflammation contributes to blood vessel damage, which leads to cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol, which is essential for repairing and healing damage in all cells, is just an innocent bystander in this process. And if you don’t control chronic inflammation, doctors can only throw darts at cholesterol.
You can measure your chronic inflammation with a highly sensitive C-reactive protein test.
- Supplement the smart way
Instead of taking statin drugs, here’s what you should take daily to prevent heart disease and stroke:
- 2,000 to 4,000 mg (2 to 4 g) of fish oil daily (high quality, molecularly distilled EPA/DHA)
- 50 mg of CoQ10 (Ubiquinol), twice daily
- 500 mg of hawthorne, twice daily
- 500 mg grapeseed extract, twice daily
- High-quality vitamin B complex, daily
In addition, if you or anyone you know is currently taking a statin drug — or has ever taken one — I encourage you to read my special report The Insider’s Guide for a Heart-Healthy and Statin-Free Life.
It details the safe, drug-free ways to halt and reverse statin poisoning, while offering you a natural, easy-to-follow plan to address the true causes of heart disease.