High cholesterol affects approximately 16% of the U.S. population. Chances are if you have high cholesterol; your physician has prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug, exercise and a clean diet to help you get your cholesterol numbers down.
In my last article we took a brief look at statins and how they are used to lower cholesterol and some of the side-effects that may result from the use of these drugs. In this article we will look at a couple of studies involving statins, as well as another class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called bile-acid binding resins.
Your liver uses cholesterol in order to create bile acids, these substances are needed for good digestion. The medications in this class include Cholestyramine and are sold as Prevalite and Questran, colesevenlam sold as Welchol and Cholestipol which you can purchase at the pharmacy under the brand name of Colestid.
These drugs lower cholesterol in an indirect way through the binding to the bile acids themselves. This prompts your liver to use the excess cholesterol to make even more bile acids, which consequently reduces the level of cholesterol in your blood.
These drugs appear to carry less adverse side effects than the statins, though several have been reported. Some people report constipation, heartburn, gas as well as other gastrointestinal problems. Many of these are problems that some people simply cannot tolerate.
A newer resin, Colesevelam, appears to be the one drug that causes the least amount of problems.
Research is studying the probability that these drugs may be contributing to the loss of calcium in the body. If this is the case; that means taking these could put an individual at an elevated risk for osteoporosis.
In addition to this though, the drugs may also contribute to certain vitamin deficiencies, most notably vitamins A, D, E, and K. If your doctor prescribes this category of drugs, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking vitamins to compensate for this.
Before accepting a prescription for any statin drug, consider the results of this statistical study conducted by researchers in England. It just might open your eyes to the very real dangers these drugs can cause if used for an extended period of time.
Researchers examined the medical records of more than two million users of statin drugs in England and Wales. They wanted to quantify the side effects of this medication during the first five years individuals used it.
In those initial five years of usage, individuals, according to the results, were more likely to develop the following complications:
• Moderate to serious liver problems
• Acute renal failure
• Moderate to serious impaired muscle function
If this isn’t alarming in itself, consider this other piece of news from the medical community regarding this standard prescription medication. There is talk in the medical community that doctors will routinely prescription statins even for those patients whose LDL levels are not elevated. This option is based on a recent medical study. Of course, the study, called JUPITER, is funded by pharmaceutical companies.
Before you accept that statin prescription, or lament to your doctor that you can’t lower your cholesterol level without some help, think back to this statistical study.
There is still one more possible side effect that bile-acid binding resins may trigger – they may interfere with the absorption of other medications. This includes the thyroid replacement hormones, digoxin (Lonoxin), warfarin, and any number of beta-blocker drugs and some drugs that treat low blood sugar.
This side effect can be prevented, though. Research has shown that if you timed your ingestion of medications just right, you may be able to avoid this. Take your other drugs either one hour before or four to six hours after the bile acid-binding resins.
These days it seems as if the drugs that are developed to help us combat illnesses, can actually decrease our overall health. The best way to avoid drug side effects is to eliminate the need for the drugs in the first place.
A healthy clean diet of lean meats, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, non-fat dairy products and whole grain products along with consistent exercise, stress management, maintaining a healthy weight and a bit of determination can go a long way in helping you lower your cholesterol without the need of prescription drugs as well as to help you avoid high cholesterol numbers in the first place.