It used to be that cholesterol was the most accurate predictor of heart disease. Now we know that inflammation, as measured by C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, is more accurate. If your cholesterol is normal, but your CRP is high, it?s very likely your doctor will prescribe statins. But do you really need statins? The answer is NO!
Like all drugs, statins have side effects. One of the biggest problems with statins is that they use up CoEnzyme Q10, a nutrient essential for good heart function. So while they reduce inflammation, they do so at a pretty high cost - and I?m not just talking dollars.
Now a group of savvy Canadian researchers have published a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that offers a different solution to high CRP: a better diet. Darned if the diet didn?t work as well as the statins.
Since you may not get this information from your doctor, I thought you might want to know some of the details. A group of patients with high cholesterol and high CRP were randomly given various diets either with or without statins. Some simply went on a diet very low in saturated (animal) fats. Others ate a low-fat diet and took a statin. The third group ate a lot of vegetables, soy, and almonds. This last diet worked the best. In fact, it worked as well as the starting dose of the statin.
So, instead of running out and filling that prescription for dangerous statins, take a look at your diet first. Making a few simple changes will go a long way.
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And here?s something else to consider: If you really want a healthy heart, you can?t just look at one indicator, such as cholesterol or CRP. Next month?s issue of Women?s Health Letter features an important article on a little-known risk factor for heart disease. A simple blood test will tell you whether or not your risk is high. Doctors don?t routinely order this test because they don?t know what to do about it. But I?ve talked with doctors of integrative medicine who specialize in cardiology, and I?ll be telling you what you can do to save yourself from a surprise heart attack or stroke.
Subscribers to my newsletter will have this information in early July. If you?re not already a subscriber, you can sign up on my website, www.womenshealthletter.com, or call 800-728-2288.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Jenkins, D.J., et al. "Direct comparison of dietary portfolio vs statin on C-reactive protein," Eur J Clin Nutr, May 18, 2005.