February is American Heart Month! 28 days dedicated to the ticker (of the non-doily variety) and getting smarter about managing it could not be more relevant today, as more than half a million Americans die of heart disease every year. This is preventable.
While the education and prevention awareness campaigns take flight, this annual awareness month just happens to come on the heels of one recent decision that has undoubtedly raised some eyebrows, including ours. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology recently issued new cholesterol guidelines, widening the group and criteria of those recommended to take statins. Experts are stating benefits beyond what statins were primarily used for in the past, which was to lower cholesterol. This effectively opens the door for millions of Americans to begin taking more pills, or adds to the cornucopia of pills they already take.
This expanded criteria means an increase in prescriptions is likely to occur. What raises a red flag to us at WellnessFX is that alongside it will come – you guessed it – risk and side effects.
We won’t argue that in a world plagued by obesity and heart disease, statins can be a necessary and beneficial part of traditional medicine when considered on an individual and medically guided basis. But how safe are they? Do the benefits outweigh the negative side effects?
Side effects from statins include:
- Muscle pain and damage: The most common and problematic side effect of statins, and have been known to break down muscle mass. Statins have shown to cause myopathy, which is a disorder where muscle fibers malfunction, resulting in muscular weakness.
- Liver damage: Statins can cause your liver to increase the production of enzymes that help metabolize some medications. As the liver has a myriad of functions in the body, it is essential that the healthy functioning of this organ isn’t compromised.
- Diabetes: A few studies have suggested that statin use may increase an individual’s chances of developing diabetes, though the effect is fairly small. A study in Canada with 500,000 participants, for example, found a 10-22% increase of risk for diabetes depending on the type of statins used.
It’s about lifestyle change
Learn about cholesterol and what kind of a lifestyle change would lead to naturally lowering your levels, rather than first resorting to placing a Band-Aid over the problem. Here are a steps to build and keep a healthy heart:
- Measure, learn, and improve by monitoring your biomarkers – check here for a quick rundown on “Understanding Heart Disease Risk with Blood Screening”
- Eat healthy. Need recipe ideas?
- Move more. We suggest dancing!
- Watch your weight. Go here for the latest WellnessFX partnership that can help
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke. Enough said.
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure – learn how to control your levels.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation – we like these alternative drink ideas
- Take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes – need tips?
- Manage stress…again, we really can’t stress enough that you should try dancing it out…
We hope that this month will be an opportunity for everyone to learn about and improve their heart health, no matter where you are on your health journey. Curious about where your heart stats stand? There is no time better than now for you – or a loved one – to do a blood screening and take control of your health.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.