Seven Tips to Fix Your Cholesterol Without Medication

by

THE SINGULAR FOCUS on treating cholesterol as a means to prevent heart attacks is leading to the deaths of millions of people because the real underlying cause of the majority of heart disease is not being diagnosed or treated by most physicians.

For example, I recently saw a patient named Jim who had “normal” cholesterol levels yet was taking the most powerful statin on the market, Crestor. Despite this aggressive pharmaceutical treatment, this man was headed for a serious heart attack.

Jim’s doctors had missed his real disease risks by focusing on and treating his cholesterol levels. All the while they were ignoring the most important condition that put him at dramatically higher risk of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and dementia. In a moment I will explain what this condition is and what you can do about it.

This craze for treating cholesterol has lead to an onslaught of pharmaceuticals designed to “lower cholesterol.” Statins are now the number one selling class of drugs in the nation and new cholesterol medications are produced every day.

The latest in a new class of “super” cholesterol drugs, CETP inhibitors, now in the drug approval pipeline from Merck (anacetrapib) burst into the news recently with exclamations from typically restrained scientists. Data on this new drug was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago.

The study found a 39.8 percent reduction in LDL (or bad cholesterol) and a 138 percent increase in HDL or good cholesterol.(i) Sure, the medications lowered cholesterol. However, the study was not large enough or long enough to answer the most important question: Did the drug results in fewer heart attacks and deaths.

Despite this glaring omission, the scientists reporting on these results used words such as “spectacular”, “giddy”, “enormous”, “most excited in decades” to describe their enthusiasm over the medication. Of course, the researchers (as I described in a recent post “Dangerous Spin Doctors”) were on the payroll of Merck who funded the study.

Metabolic syndrome is the leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and a variety of other chronic illnesses in this country.

Why Lowering Cholesterol May Not Lower the Risk of Death

Unfortunately, these scientists seemed to have short-term memory loss. Just three short years ago in 2007, another new “wonder” drug from Pfizer (torcetrapib) which worked on the same mechanism that anacetrapib does, was found to dramatically lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol, just like this new drug from Merck.

There was only one small problem—in those taking the drug, deaths from heart attacks increased 25 percent, deaths from heart disease increased 40 percent and overall deaths increased 200 percent.(ii) After spending $800 million in development Pfizer had to walk away from the drug.

Oops. How can a drug that does all the right things (dramatically lowering bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol) actually cause MORE heart disease and deaths?

The answer is simple. Drugs don’t treat the underlying causes of chronic illness. It is not our genes which haven’t changed much in 20,000 years, although they may predispose us to environmental and lifestyle triggers of illness. The causes of chronic disease are rooted in what we eat, how much we move, how we face stress, how connected we are to our communities, and toxic chemicals and metals in our environment.

A wry editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine many years ago remarked that doctors should use new drugs as soon as they come on the market before side effects develop. Perhaps that’s what the authors of this study are proposing what we do with anacetrapib.

At best this new “super cholesterol” drug will lower cholesterol numbers without killing too many people while increasing health care costs by billions of dollars as millions of new prescriptions are written. Worse it may end up in the same garbage dump Pfizer’s drug from 3 years ago did. Even worse scenarios exist … and the reason is startling simple …

These drugs do not address the fundamental underlying cause of heart disease. Heart disease is not a Lipitor, Crestor or even an “anacetrapib” deficiency. It is a complex end result of multiple factors driven by our diet, fitness level, stress, and other lifestyle factors such as smoking, social connections, and, increasingly, environmental toxins.

Taking a pill won’t fix these problems that push our biology steadily along the trajectory of disease. The idea of putting statins at the check out counter of MacDonald’s is the epitome of reductionist thinking. The problem isn’t cholesterol — it’s all the stuff we are putting in our mouths!

Jim, my patient, is a perfect example of how doctors treat the symptoms, not the cause of disease. As I have written about, in a previous blog, most doctors focus on the wrong target for preventing and treating heart disease.

Abnormal cholesterol levels are just a downstream problem that is mostly a result of “diabesity” or the continuum of blood sugar and insulin imbalances that range from pre-diabetes to full-blown end stage diabetes.

Taking a statin or a CETP inhibitor cannot reverse this change in our biology. We cannot use a drug to correct what happens to our biology because of a high sugar and refined flour, low fiber, processed diet, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive stress, lack of sleep, or the harmful effects of pollution.

Let’s take a closer look at Jim. On 10 mg of Crestor, the most powerful statin on the market, his total cholesterol was a beautiful 173, and his LDL was a respectable 101. But the good news ended there. His triglycerides were 176 (normal is less than 100), and his HDL was 37 (normal is greater than 50).

Jim’s numbers belie a deeper truth about cholesterol that most conventional doctors are ignoring today: Given the current state of scientific understanding, the cholesterol numbers doctors measure today are increasingly irrelevant.

The Real Cause of Heart Disease

Instead of looking just at the cholesterol numbers, we need to look at the cholesterol particle size. The real question is: Do you have small or large HDL or LDL particles? Small, dense particles are more atherogenic (more likely to cause the plaque in the arteries that leads to heart attacks), than large buoyant, fluffy cholesterol particles.

Small particles are associated with pre-diabetes (or metabolic syndrome) and diabetes and are caused by insulin resistance. Recent research (see my blog “Do Statins Cause Diabetes and Heart Disease”) indicates that statins may actually increase diabetes.

While measuring cholesterol particle size is a simple blood test that can be done at Labcorp, most doctors do not look at it, even though it is the only meaningful way to evaluate cholesterol numbers. You can have a LDL cholesterol that looks normal, like Jim did at 101, but you may have over 1,000 small LDL particles which are very dangerous.

On the other hand, you can have the same LDL number of 101, and it may be made up of  400 large particles which cause no real health risk. Your health risk has less to do with your cholesterol numbers than it does the quantity and size of your cholesterol particles.

Again, we can take Jim as an example. His cholesterol particles were all small and dense because he had severe pre-diabetes. This is also not hard to diagnose. Jim was obese at 285 pounds with a BMI (body mass index) of 36. You are considered obese if your BMI is greater than 30. His waist-to-hip ratio was 1.04 (normal is less than 0.9 for men).

He had very high insulin and blood sugar levels after we gave him a test drink of glucose (sugar). All this added up to tell us he had severe pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome. As I mentioned before, he also had high triglycerides and low HDL — another clue that he had metabolic syndrome. We also found he had very low testosterone and growth hormone, further symptoms of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Jim reported that despite working with a trainer he kept losing muscle and he was always hungry. This is why.

Let me reiterate: These are measurements and tests that can be done in any doctor’s office, but are rarely done. These are not esoteric or expensive labs that can only be done at specialty clinics.

The condition that Jim suffered from, metabolic syndrome, is the most common medical condition in America, but the most rarely diagnosed. It affects over half the population. It is the major cause of heart disease, diabetes, and aging, and it is one of the major causes of dementia and cancer, not to mention infertility and sexual dysfunction.

Yet it is mostly ignored by doctors. Why? The answer is simple and tragic: There are no drugs to treat it effectively, and doctors tend to focus on what they can treat with medications, even if it is the wrong target. This is one of the reasons statins are so popular in America despite the vast research against them.

Seven Tips to Fix Your Cholesterol and Reverse Metabolic Syndrome without Medication

Luckily, this doesn’t mean you are doomed, even if you are already suffering from metabolic syndrome and heart problems. High cholesterol and pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, can be successfully diagnosed and treated. I have reviewed this in previous blogs but here are 7 tips to help you get large, fluffy cholesterol particles and reverse metabolic syndrome.

  1. Get the right cholesterol tests. Check NMR particle sizes for cholesterol by asking your doctor for this test at Labcorp or LipoScience. You want to know if you have safe, light, and fluffy cholesterol particles, or small, dense, artery damaging cholesterol particles. A regular cholesterol test won’t tell you this.
  2. Check for metabolic syndrome.
    • Do you have a fat belly? Measure you waist at the belly button and your hips at the widest point—if your waist/hip is greater than 0.8 if you are a woman or 0.9 if you are man, then you have a problem
    • If you have small LDL and HDL particles, you have metabolic syndrome.
    • If your triglycerides are greater than 100 and your HDL is less than 50, or the ratio of triglycerides to HDL is greater than 4, then you have metabolic syndrome.
    • Do a glucose insulin challenge test. This is very important and most physicians do not test for insulin and glucose.
    • Check your hemoglobin A1c, which measures blood sugar over the last 6 weeks. If it is greater than 5.5, you may have metabolic syndrome
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Eat a diet with a low glycemic load, high in fiber, and phytonutrient and omega-3 rich. It should be plant based, and you should consume plenty of good quality protein such as beans, nuts, seeds, and lean animal protein (ideally organic or grass fed). I have described specific diets that abide by these parameters in my book UltraMetabolism.
  4. Exercise. Enough said.
  5. Get good quality sleep. Sleep is essential for healing your body, maintaining balanced blood sugar, and your overall health.
  6. Use supplements to support healthy cholesterol particle size. These include:
    • A multivitamin including at least 500 mcg of chromium, 2 mg of biotin, and 400 mg of lipoic acid. For most you will take 3 capsules twice a day.
    • 1000 mg of omega-3 fats (EPA/DHA) twice a day.
    • 2000 IU of vitamin D3 twice a day.
    • 1200 mg of red rice yeast twice a day.
    • 2-4 capsules of glucomannan 15 minutes before meals with a glass of water.
    • Broad-range, balanced concentration of plant sterols. You will usually take 1 capsule with each meal.
  7. Consider using high dose niacin or vitamin B3. This can only be done with a doctor’s prescription. It is useful to help raise HDL cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase particle size.
  8. Use low-dose statins ONLY if you have had heart disease or are a male with multiple risk factors, while carefully monitoring for muscle and liver damage.

For the vast majority of people this approach is better than simply taking a cholesterol medication. To reduce your risk of heart disease you need to address metabolic syndrome, and that can ONLY be done effectively with a comprehensive diet and lifestyle approach like the one outlined above.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

Have you taken statins? What has been the effect and do you have muscle pain or any neurologic side effects?

Do you think metabolic syndrome is an important factor to address to reduce the risk of heart disease? Why or why not? Has your doctor ever said, your sugar is a little high and we will watch it? Watch for what — until it is so bad you are eligible to take diabetes medication?

What do you think of conventional medicine’s tendency to prescribe medications over dietary and lifestyle change for chronic health conditions?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Share them by leaving a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

References

(i) Cannon, C.P., Shah, S., Dansky, H.M. et al. 2010. Safety of anacetrapib in patients with or at high risk for voronary heart disease. N Engl J Med. 363(25): 2406–2415.

(ii) Barter, P.J., Caulfield, M., Eriksson, M. et al. 2007. Effects of torcetrapib in patients at high risk for coronary events. N Engl J Med. 357(21):2109-2122.

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40 Responses to Seven Tips to Fix Your Cholesterol Without Medication

  1. Very Frustrated February 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Just left the doctor’s office. This was the first time I had met the guy (I switched doctors because I wasn’t happy with the last one). I had seen the nurse practitioner two weeks before. She sent me for blood work. The test came back that my cholesterol is high and my tryglcerides are high. My HDL is low and I have hypertension. This is the third time with these results in the last year and a half. Until then, I had never had cholesterol problems. I do not eat unhealthy, but I have fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, herniated discs and bone spurs, which keep me from being as active as I need to be. The doctor said I am obese (which really upset me); I am only a size 12. (He said that my BMI was high, but I’ve always weighed 20lbs heavier than what I look like. Even as a child when I was solid muscle, the doctors and nurses couldn’t believe I weighed as much as I did. I don’t think you can accurately know someones fat content just because of what they weigh.) I have a family history of heart disease and diabetes so the cholesterol thing has me worried. I think the doctors are missing the mark. They have me on a statin drug that I’ve been on for over a year now and it’s not doing anything. I agree with your article; I believe that doctors are so busy prescribing every new pill that comes along to treat a symptom, that they are completely missing the cause, which is being left untreated and people are dying or physically deteriorating because of it. I’m at a loss; I need a doctor that will actually figure out whats going on instead of throwing pills at me to take. It’s the same scenario with the other conditions that I have – no help. I keep scouring the internet for answers. Thank you for your article.

  2. Avatar of citykitty
    citykitty February 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    I am very interested in this article as I’ve been on 20 mg of Lipitor daily for about 3 years now. Eighteen months ago I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy and, to date, I’ve lost about 87 pounds. I still have about 50 more to go to goal. Prior to having the VSG, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Currently all of my blood tests are normal. My A1C was 5.8%, blood pressure was 112/60, total cholesterol 3.72, HDL 1.85, LDL 1.23 for a ratio of 2; triglycerides 1.41 at a weight of 238 lbs. I would like to stop taking the lipitor, as I believe my diet and exercise is doing more to control it than the lipitor is. I will be approaching my doctor asap to request that I be allowed to stop taking the lipitor and follow your recommendations. I am also taking PGX which I understand may be contraindicated if I am on lipitor?? I am looking forward to seeing my results without the lipitor.

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff February 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Please check with your physician for information on contraindications.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

      • Dianne Hollenbach March 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

        My total cholesterol is 286, Hdl-c 79, triglycerides 59, Hdl-p 44.8, small ldl-p 796, ldl size 21.5.

        I’m 71, do cardio 45 min 4x week, yoga 1 day and have a bmi of 21. I eat only organic and mostly vegan. Blood pressure usually 117/73.

        My dr wants to put me on Crestor but I’m opposed to taking any drugs but vitamins. I did have a clogged carotid surgery several years ago and have osteoporosis. Otherwise excellent health.

        I’m going to follow your advise regarding supplements but do you think I should take a statin, also?

        • Avatar of HymanStaff
          HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

          Hi Dianne,

          Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

          Wishing You the Best of Health!

          Dr. Hyman Staff

  3. James Lascola February 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    I have low testosterone,i went to my drug store to check on a gel replacement and found the cost way out of my buget.$479 to $539 a month.Is there a suupplement i can take to raise my testosterone.JImmy Lascola

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff April 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      Hi James,

      The best way to raise your testosterone is by understanding what is causing it to be low in the first place… Simple things like adjusting your diet to a low glycemic diet helps improve insulin sensitivity which actually boosts testosterone! In Dr Hyman’s The Blood Sugar Solution, he discusses which foods and supplements to eat to help men naturally (and affordably!) boost testosterone. Check it out: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com and for supplements: store.bloodsugarsolution.com

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  4. marie fazio March 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    I have tried lipitor and livalo, both have caused me tremendous muscle and joint pain… I don’t know what else to try…. I eat a healthy diet, walk a mile a day, I am 5ft. 3” and weigh 138 lbs. Help!!!!

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff April 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi Marie,

      There are so many tools you can try in your “food as medicine” toolkit and supplements you can try. I would suggest you look into Dr Hyman’s The Blood Sugar Solution for specific diet and supplement suggestions for improving your cholesterol profile. But also remember that not all “high” cholesterol is necessarily bad…That is why Dr Hyman suggests having an NMR profile run so you can see the quality of your cholesterol. Also you may want to consider supplements to help with cholesterol. For example, have you tried PGX? For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  5. Ruth Stanford March 10, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    I too like many of the commenters have cholesterol that won’t budge. i have high blood pressure and pre diabetic. My total cholesterol was 204 at the first of the year. I started walking every day, cut out all bread and foods high on the glycemic index, started eating nuts, avacados, raw veggies like crazy. Only eat good fats. My total cholesterol has gone up to 220! It the bad kind too. My blood sugar remains the same too,too high. I am discouraged. What could I possibly be doing wrong? I am under a tremendous amount of stress. Is that a factor?

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  6. Cheryl lynn March 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    I’m thinking of changing doctors as all doctors Ive seen so far through out another pill and awhile later you see an attorney sueing the pharmaceuticles for too many people dying or having other problems besides the original one. I have a pacemaker that was put in in 2008. I have not used it since then. I’m losing weight but very slowly as I am on a cane and walker after hurting my back lifting cases of water and degenerative osteoarthritis. I exercise very little a d when I could walk normally I exercised up to two hours a day 5 days a week. I now have metobolic syndrome but my numbers are coming down with watching for food intolerences and eating 50 percent fruits and veggies. I decided to take matters in my own hands when I was given blood pressure medication 3 years ago and went to emergency with my blood pressure too low and almost died. I wonder now if the pacemaker is something I needed as well. They wanted to give me Lipitor when it came out but I lowered my pressure and cholesterol with foods and less stress in my life. Now since Lipitor is recalled they want to give me Crestor and I won’t take that either. I e gone on a juice and veggie fast for 10 days, eat e en more veggies in the hopes of losing more quickly. My blood pressure goes up when I have too much salt. My blood pressure is usually 115/68 to 140/80. I was to go for a stress test and knew they were going to inject me with some chemical and was scared so my pressure went to 178/80. Minutes later it was 140/84. I don’t know what to do anymore so I’m eating more organic and no dairy or gluten. I’ve lost 4 pounds in 14 days trying to reset my metabolism. I have to lose 85 pounds, but have minor sleep apnea until I lose more weight. The doctors want me on cymbalta, Crestor, and I am on a diretic and potassium. They just want to give me pill after pill. Any they have given me have caused side effects or not fixed the problem. I am on the Internet constantly trying to heal myself or go to A doctor I can trust. I had one doctor I saw for the first time snd he wanted to give me knee surgery on both knees at the same time. I wasn’t asked what I felt about it. I’m not egoed or trying to tell S doctor what to do I just think they are pill happy. They don’t spend enough time on you to see what your problem is. I had one doctor tell me I have copd and asthma just because I had a sinus infection. Also when I have bronchitis I don’t breath very well. Like most people. I haven’t had that for 5 years or more. I’m getting better on my own and doing what I’m doing. Any suggestions!

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. If you are interested in a different approach you might consider a practitioner of functional medicine. To locate one in your area see the “Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner” link at the Institute of Functional Medicine website: http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  7. Jo March 23, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    I realize this is an older article but I just want to say you almost had me convinced. That is until I read your recommendation to take 1200 mg of red rice yeast twice a day. I encourage all other readers to do their due diligence and research red rice yeast on their own.

  8. francois levy March 27, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    So my ldl wasn’t low enough so my doctor doubled my crestor dosage. Now my perception of crestor is that I get heady from the pills in the first place and real muscle pain, god knows what it must do to my heart. So I doubled my exercise, no fat in my diet, lots of veggies. Also found I could buy red rice from the local shop (which crestor is fabricated on), with much fewer side effects. Also I could regulate the dosage by consumption. I see clients who had bypass surgery 30 years ago, and are in good shape, not sure about these coated and uncoated stents, wonder why they haven’t developed a device for reaming out an artery, like a waterpick effect, laser, highfrequency flush out, guess they don’t involve a pharmaceutical product

  9. Amie March 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Can we request Dr. Hyman to post a topic of how he would treat a patient with Takayasu Arteritis- an autoimmune disease. What diet they should have?

  10. Rick April 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    I was taking Red Yeast Rice for my high LDL. Until it was no longer effective. I was put on Lipator by my doctor. It caused liver function problems. No bile production.
    I have been eating a low fat, no meat diet for years. No hamburgers, french fries, etc. I am a chicken and fish guy. Grilled or baked only. Lots of fresh veggies. My total cholesterol was 229 at my last test.
    So, I eat right, cannot take statins. What do I do?

  11. David April 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    I was liking what was being recommended until I hit the Red Rice Yeast line..and I lost all respect for you and your railing against Statins..

    Red Yeast Rice contains the same ingredient as lovastatin.. what a crock! Worse, you don’t have any clue what you are buying because the FDA goes out of its way to make sure you are not getting something worth buying.. if you are going to take Red Yeast Rice.. just get the $4/month statin at your local Walmart or competitor.. and at least you will be getting a known dose.. lame..

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/red-yeast-rice-and-cholesterol/

    I am deeply suspicious of statins and have elected to take Slow Release Niacin with good results.. but this is not something I see here.. mmmm.. and yea.. don’t bother with that so called “No Flush” Niacin.. you are just risking liver damage for no benefit.. whats the point?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff July 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Hi David,

      Thank you for sharing your concerns about RYR. The truth is that not all RYR in the states has the active constituent (statin-like monacolin constituents) which you are expressing concern about. Actually, RYR contains a plethora of healing constituents (healthy monounsaturated fats, sterols and isoflavones) which might be responsible for its cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects. We hope you will reconsider the healing attributes of this traditional medicine carefully suggested by Dr. Hyman!

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

      In good health,
      The Nutrition Coaching Team

  12. Mike April 25, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I’m off my Lipitor (20mg) for 5 weeks due to muscle soreness in the upper arms and will be exploring options with my cardiologist when he returns from vacation.

    I had tried Niaspan but had side effects (waking up on fire) so I dropped that.

    I would like to start following your recommendations but am having a very difficult time finding a multivitamin with the right formulation – Lipoic Acid, Biotin, etc. Any recommendations?

  13. Wojtek Nowakowski April 26, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    My lipid tests came back and I heard a nurse scream to the telephone: We need you here ASAP!!! You LDL has gone up by 60 points from 110 to 175. My total # was 235. She didn’t even bother to go over the other #’s. But I did.They were as follows: blood sugar: 72, triglycerides: 75, HDL: 55. So what’s the big deal, I asked? She agreed further into going over these #’s that there’s really to reason for alarm because based on those #’s there’s very little indication of chronic inflammation.

  14. Moby May 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Started on statins,(simvastatin), for approx 3 yrs. when I first went on them I began having headaches. Dose was increased to 40mg. Began having headaches all the time. Other side effects, cognitive problems,can’t remember things can’t concentrate. Feeling depressed and anxious all the time. Would love to get off statins.

  15. Celia Cristina Ribeiro May 15, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    FINALLY AN ANSWER TO PEOPLE LIKE ME!
    Hello I’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol last summer. I was so disappointed as I am the kind who eats health foods,i visit Mac Donnalds twice a year, because I was born to a family of farmers, I have been taught that cooking our own meal is the best for our health,dispite the blood tests for liver profile recently and endoscopic and other imaging tests in the past,not showing abnormalities, my liver does not agree with fat foods
    (so naturally I tend to eat healthy)! since my diagnostic I’ve been fighting this tendency as I exppected it to go away on itself once I assumed that was only a storm going on inside my body which would soon calm down.There was no much i could do as i had health lifestyle already;i forgot to mention that my work is very physical, on top of that I swam once or twice a week and do belly dancing once a week.EVEN THOUGH I STARTED PILLING ON WEIGHT! shocking!
    3 weeks ago on the 26th of April i was put on Simvastatin 40mg because the bloody thing was still increasing
    The very next day I sick in the morning,spent the day light headed and just could’n bring my self to concentrate on my studies, those symptons improved but on Wednesday last week new symptons appeared : Back pain that goes and comes back,My back got stiff on wednesday,sunday and yesterday again
    I still have trouble concentrating on my studies,I am forgetful and my urine is much darker and I’m also tired,beyond the normal
    I’m so pleased I’ve found these informations here because I pretty much believe there must b reasons rather than bad diet and lack of exercise that lead to high levels of bad cholesterol.the science should focus more on that
    I am expecting a phone call from my GP today to discuss the side effects of the tablets and either or not to stop taking it

  16. testerone May 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing problems with your website.
    It appears like some of the written text within your posts are running off the screen.
    Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well?
    This may be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Cheers

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff May 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

      It sounds like an issue with your browser, please clear the cache.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  17. Eleanor May 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    I had been taking Lipitor for nine years and had severe muscle cramps which my doctor ignored,so I took myself off for five weeks and the muscle pain stopped.my levels have increased again and he put me on 10mg.of zocor about a month ago and the muscle pain is back,he does not believe that it has anything to do with the. Medication,what else can it be?please help I am a caregiver for my husband I am 73 years old,what else can I do for my health.

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff May 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet. Please consult with your physician on this matter.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  18. Zee August 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    I don’t mind discussing this openly as I hope it will help someone.

    I’m a post-menopausal woman. I had an inkling last year that something was seriously up with statins when my primary care provider told me that if I didn’t comply with her request to take statins at the dose she recommends, that she would be financially penalized by my insurance company. My jaw hit the floor.

    When this occurred, I hadn’t been taking the statin prescription because I was on the max dose of Vicodin (max dose of Tylenol!) pending double knee replacements and had been for more than 1.5 years. I just didn’t want to hit my liver that hard by adding the statins. I figured it was safer to risk not taking them than taking them. (I had the replacements nearly a year ago and am pain free, very mobile, and Vicodin free. :-) ) Also, I’ve been hovering around being a borderline Type 2 for four years (stable) after having RNY, before which I’d been Type 2 for nearly a decade (metabolic syndrome). I don’t want to do ANYTHING to go back to that place! I’d been hearing about the statin-diabetes connection.

    So then I found The Great Cholesterol Myth book, and what Dr. Hyman and others have written. And I’ve been eating really well and exercising. Went in for my annual yesterday and got read the riot act to the point that it sounds like she may quit me if I don’t comply, because of my LDL number and total cholesterol. Never mind that my ratios are excellent, as is my CRP. Never mind that my HDL shot up 30 points and is AWESOME! (I suspect my LDL and total cholesterol went up from the healthy coconut oil I’ve been consuming.) She also won’t authorize the tests to find out what size my particles are as she doesn’t believe in it.

    I feel so much better without the statins. I really don’t think the evidence is there to take them, especially someone like myself who is so close to that Type 2 boundary. However, I have requested through the contact form to go see Dr. Hyman and/or his staff since I’m in MA. Can’t wait to talk to them about it.

    Thanks for the info, Dr. Hyman! Hope to see you soon!

  19. Kathy August 13, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    You should update your recommendations for red rice yeast. In the US it no longer contains but trace amounts of the cholesterol lowering substance, due to disputes between the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA on whether it is a drug or a supplement. So far, the pharmaceutical industry has won.

  20. Teresa R October 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    In July of 2012, my weight was 146 (I’m 5’4″), HDL 98, LDL 107, Triglycerides 45, Fasting glucose 89. I developed a foot injury and when my numbers were rechecked in Jan of 2013 my wt had increased to 154 lb (secondary to decreased activity), but b/c I was still eating reasonably well my cholesterol #’s were still good: TC 237, HDL increased to 105, LDL up to 120, Trig up to 58, Glucose still good at 88.

    I had surgery on my foot which improved the pain, however in the spring I switched to a 5d/wk job. (I’m still seeing a pain mgmt doc for compensatory hip/back pain r/t the foot injury.) I foolishly thought I’d be able to be more active b/c of the better hours, but instead. found myself stressed and too tired to cook. As such, we began eating “garbage” most of the time. I switched PCP’s in July and we ran fresh labs for my initial physical. After only FOUR months of junk food I had gained another 6 lbs (total 1 yr gain was 14 lbs!) and my TC was 245, HDL had dropped to 95 (yeah, I know that’s still a great #, but that’s a 10 pt drop in FOUR months!); LDL had increased to 131, Trig increased to 93! The only good thing was that I finally got someone to measure VLDL and it was 19.

    I have now quit working and we are back to eating “real” food (read: home cooked). So, I figure that I can bring my LDL and Trig back down fairly quickly, however w/the SVT, most exercise is out until we figure out what is going on. (All I have to do is stand up and HR pops up to 130-140′s. Echo was perfect. I’ve turned in my event monitor last week. Treadmill showed some EKG changes w/activity but my HR did level off in the 180′s. What I had assumed were panic attacks from my crazy stressful job is actually SVT. Great. I don’t have a plumbing problem, I have an electrical one!)

    (For those who fall for the “statin” solution, it really is possible to turn your numbers around just by changing diet/activity. I know this b/c in 1996 my TC was 221, HDL was 46, LDL was 133 and Trig were 212! I was 35 yr old at that time, I’m 52 now. My husband and I did “Body for Life” in the early 2000′s which totally changed how we ate and our numbers have been better ever since. We eat real butter, eggs, bacon (an occasional treat!), mostly lean meats and/or salmon/tuna or shrimp, tons of veggies–esp the low glycemic ones, lots of beans, and limited whole grains. We use canola oil 90% of the time, and olive oil the other 10%. We do allow ourselves some junk, but w/the exception of veggies, we eat pretty much everything else in moderation. Outside of the crazy job-induced months long fast food binge, we eat very few refined or pre-packaged foods and we avoid margarine and trans-fats. Of course, exercise is important.)

    So now my question: I noticed when I saw my “new” doc (the cardiologist), that he dx’d me w/mixed hypercholesteremia. Seriously? I mean, yeah…my LDL is 131, but my HDL of 95 and VLDL of 19 kind of balances that out, doesn’t it? All of my ratios are still well WNL and the rest of my lab work (CBC, Chemistries) w/the exception of a low Vit D level (now corrected) are also WNL. It just seemed odd to me (an RN) to be dinged w/that dx since the most important numbers are all good. At the same time, I will take great pleasure in reversing my LDL just to show him it can be done!

  21. Helen November 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    My PCP has tried me on Lovaza, Niaspan, Crestor, lipitor, pravastatin. The Lovaza and Niaspan were not effective. I had immediate side effects from the statins. At my last office visit, I asked for the particle size test. I will find out the results this Thursday. I have come to the conclusion that I am statin intolerant. My doc gets impatient with me, but I am a nurse and I see a little more than the general public. I don’t think we see all the negative data on statins. Big pharma only has the bottom line in their sights. I take a bp med. my pressure is normal when I am not working. I work 12 hour shifts 3 nights a week. I know that my schedule has a lot to do with my health. I am due to retire in the next few years. I expect my general health, which is good, to be optimal at that time. I don’t believe in jumping on the band wagon of some drugs. I am now going to purchase your book. I have the book “the cholesterol myth”; in it, the authors do not give statins women, children or men who have not had a cardiac event. I have come to the conclusion, after reading and listening to the doctor authors, that sugar and the inflammation due to it are the big culprits. I have been doing MEGA amounts of research regarding cholesterol and related issues. I apprise my PCP of my findings. He is willing to listen, though, I suspect somewhat skeptical. My gut tells we “RUN” when statins are suggested, but, as stated, I have given a few a test drive. I know my body. I detested the muscle cramping, the foggy thinking, the spectator-in-my-own-life feeling that I experienced within a day or day and a half of initiating each one. I was thrilled to find your website to add to my arsenal. Keep up the good work. There are legions of people like myself looking for solutions.

  22. Susan November 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Does Dr. Hyman take patients from out of state? I have been researching on line for my husband who has hereditary cholesterol. We do not like the crestor which he is currently on which is causing heart palpitations as a side effect. He travels to MA on business every once in a while. Does the Dr. believe what he is saying as far as vitamin supplements apply to those with hereditary cholesterol?

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman January 2, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work. Unfortunately Dr Hyman cannot provide personal medical advice in this forum. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  23. buycrestorow.soup.io November 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

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  24. Diana November 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I am a 54 year old female in fairly decent health leading a fairly active life and attending the gym at least 2-3 times a week. I have been told for years that I have hereditary high cholesterol that requires a drug intervention or I will be at a much higher risk for heart disease. I cannot take any of the statin drugs without experiencing most of the identified side effects in a harsh way. I even tried red rice yeast, which lowers the cholesterol levels without so many harsh side-effects, but is only suggested to take no longer than three months. Your article above makes so much more sense to me than what my medical doctors have told me. I honestly feel like they are always treating just a small symptom or result of my overall issue. I have grown tired of the medical society, and so I took classes and began educating myself on my body, proper nutrition, a daily movement program, and my zen health by reducing the toxins (environmental, stress, etc.) in my daily life. I go for blood work again tomorrow, we will see if my strategy has had an effect on my numbers, because I know I am starting to feel better with more energy and clarity than ever before.

  25. Amy December 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    I just got the call from my doctor that I need to come see her about high cholesterol on recent blood test results. I’m obese (wow, it’s hard to use that word to describe myself- I’m definitely in denial!) and am certain I have metabolic syndrome based on the symptoms you discuss in various blogs. I also have a leaky gut. I’m glad to know that I can address cholesterol without taking drugs like so many other people I know. In fact, I consider this a much-needed wake-up call.

    Thank you for all the information you provide on the internet, free of charge. I’m glad our society is starting to take the principles of functional medicine more seriously – I know I do! I don’t know why so many of us would rather take drugs than do the ultimately pretty simple things that would give us better health overall.

    Thanks, Dr. Hyman!

  26. Bob Stewart December 24, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    Just met with my doctor to review my NMR blood test results. He said pretty much what you said while reviewing the importance and danger of small cholesterol particles. My small particle count was very high and he really stressed diet changes. Not so much the good night’s sleep — I’m terrible at that — or vitamin supplements. But he really hammered at the diet changes, with a class from a nutritionist if necessary, and preferred it over medication as a first step.

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