The HeartUK sponsored forum Healthunlocked have posted up a request for members to share with HeartUK their Statin experiences. In their words
“HEART UK are looking for people who are currently prescribed statins and would be happy to share their stories with the charity and the media.
We are looking in particular for people who have been prescribed statins and experienced some side effects, but were able to continue their statin use (perhaps by switching to a different statin or changing their dosage). ”
There were 9 replies so far on the forum. 5 were outright damming in that the posters said they had bad side effects that caused them to drop the use of Statins. In fact only one reported that they had managed to get on with them trouble free, of the other 3 one reported that she had joint and muscle pain but the GP had convinced her that it was Arthritis. Another reported that they had muscle problems but was awaiting reports on whether it was Arthritis. The third was getting calf pains but put that down to the rehab exercises.
Somehow I do not think the media will be getting to hear most of these opinions on statins.
I spent yesterday at the drug company sponsored HeartUK conference. Its a three day Cholesterol fest’ at Hatfield University which takes place every year I believe. In the morning session I asked a few mild mannered questions, like why are we measuring Total Cholesterol, HDL and LDL when there are more predictive lipid makers to look at. The speaker insisted that Total Cholesterol was still the most important thing to get under control (gob smacked !). With the second speaker I pointed out, when he mentioned that LP(a) could not be controlled and was purely genetic, that there was some research that suggested Vitamin C could have an effect on LP(a) levels and that I had seen a decrease followed by an increase and then a decrease when I went on, off and back on Vit C. He was adamant that Lp(a) could not be controlled and it was hard wired. When I made a third contribution a doctor in the audience rudely interrupted and said that based on what he heard, he felt he might as well now believe that the earth is flat. I approached him afterwards and told him that he was very rude and he should debate his point not make silly statements. He refused to and stormed off.
Things took a turn in the afternoon when a specialist speaker and researcher on LP(a) took the stage and actually stuck a slide up that showed that LP(a) was the second best predictor of heart disease behind smoking and way ahead of the usual cholesterol suspects. Mmm the earth seemed to be getting flatter. She also alluded to the fact that most animals do not produce LP(a) which tally with the fact that they do produce Vitamin C (we humans do not). The earths horizon was disappearing fast.
The whole day had a very uncomfortable feeling about it and once again when I asked two doctors/cardios how they viewed the work of Dr Dean Ornish and Dr Esseltyn, they had no idea who they were. During the day at least 3 nutritionists approached me and expressed there unhappiness with the fact that their is little or no dietary speakers at the conference. Given that heart disease for most people is a food borne illness I share their dissatisfaction.
Below is a research link that adds a little more weight to the possibility that Vit C is vital ingredient in the fight against heart disease.
On Saturday I thought I would pop down to a local HeartUK support group, I had been meaning to go for some time to see what kind of things they get up to and whether there are any like minded nutrition minded people attending. What I found shocked me. Not only did the meeting kick off with copious plates of biscuits scattered around the tables but also the raffle they have each meeting involved handing out large Christmas box size packets of biscuits. The very kind of food that put us all in that room was being handed out freely to everyone there. More importantly the members went home with the message that stuffing yourself with biscuits was perfectly OK.
It seemed customary to introduce yourself to people and openly chat about what your problem is or had been. This opened up the possibility with a few people to explore their understanding of heart disease. What I found was what I usually find in these settings. Their belief is that heart disease is caused by Cholesterol and fat and if we can get Cholesterol down everything should be OK. There is clearly a population of people out there counting there Cholesterol levels and when or if they get them down to below X, they feel that mission is accomplished. It is quite clear that unless there doctor says so then it aint so which makes exploring other theories very difficult with people. Nobody present that I spoke to had heard of Dr Ornish, Dr Esseltyn, LDL particle size or any of the other pointers I have blogged about here over the last couple of years.
I thought about setting up an alternative meeting group for the discussion and sharing of nutrition based approaches to heart disease, would anyone come I wonder ?.
The French consume similar levels of typically used markers for heart disease eg saturated fat, smoking (actually they smoke more than us) than us Brits and yet they lie second bottom of the heart disease table according to current stat’s. This fact has become known as the French Paradox and many things have been put forward in an attempt to explain it eg- red wines anti oxidant capabilities. The following link is to a very interesting article that takes a different perspective and ties in nicely with Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s ideas in the book The Great Cholesterol Con where when pinned down to suggest the major cause of heart disease he plumps for stress.
This above article would suggest that dropping sugar is a good starting point but its not the only thing we need to do from an eating perspective.
I am always telling people that eating right is all about giving up delicious food that is bad for you and replacing it with delicious food that is good for you. This is one of the reasons I switched some time ago to Green Tea instead of my usual regular tea. Now I would not describe Green Tea as delicious, more a case of coloured water but if its packed with anti oxidants then I can get used to it which I have. However the other day I discovered a tea that is over four times more powerful in terms of anti oxidant capability. When I read this headline I though it must be Macha Tea which is a kind of Green Tea on steroids, but I was surprised to find that it was a tea I had come across before when recommending it to my partner for its blood pressure reducing qualities. I was not aware that Hibiscus Tea is the Usain Bolt/Mo Farah of the antioxidant drink world. In fact athletes like Usain and Mo would do well to use it as they undoubtedly produce vast quantities of free radicals when on their punishing training schedules. The other good news is that Hibiscus Tea actually tastes nicer than Green Tea.
This short presentation gives you the relative merits of various drinks based on recent research