Long life? Looking at Cholesterol

by Riad Younes

42117.jpegThe widespread use of statins to combat bad cholesterol is criticized by experts The amount of anti-cholesterol drugs prescribed is at least astronomical. These are clear indications, with evidence based on extensive and well planned medical studies, and they are many, with few biased conclusions.  However, some specialists disagree with the lax administration and the spread of these drugs, called statins.

There is no doubt that they have an impact on outcome for patients who suffer from diseases caused by progressive obstruction of the arteries. Infarction. Stroke. Poor circulation in arms or legs. Several studies have shown that patients who regularly took statins have a lower chance of relapse and the cardiovascular disease picture getting worse.

Clinicians try, with the help of statins and drastic changes in lifestyle to reduce blood levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good protective, cholesterol (HDL). In the wave of important scientific findings, many experts recommend statins for individuals with high cholesterol, with or without serious cardiovascular disease.

How should statins be taken, when and how often? These questions are relevant because they imply important decisions, routines of daily medications, complications and side effects associated with statins, and, not least, the high cost that could be perpetuated until the last days of life.

There is a chance of encountering people who stop taking their statins occasionally. On holidays from medicine, after the cholesterol is good. Or those who avoid taking pills daily. They begin to "skip" a few days. Or take the medication on alternate days.

This doubt persisted until the publication of a recent study in the prestigious scientific journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers evaluated 200,000 individuals who have taken statins to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) in blood during a period of seven to eight years. They split the volunteers into two groups.

Those who took medicines on a regular, almost daily basis, covering more than 90% of the days of the study period, were compared with those who took statins for the same period of time in an irregular way, in less than 10% of the total days. At the end of the study, subjects who received statins regularly lived longer than the irregular group. The risk of death was reduced by 45%.

Scientists recommend, based on the results of this study, that people who receive medical advice to take statins should do so continuously to achieve the benefits of living better and longer. It is noteworthy that statins have other biological actions in addition to reducing the concentration of bad cholesterol. Activity was demonstrated in fighting inflammation that could cause arterial obstruction, thus allowing better circulation of blood to major organs.

AIDS and the Heart

The fashion of talking about AIDS seems to have calmed down lately. Nevertheless the danger remains real and clear. Recent advances have succeeded in controlling the severity of clinical features. And patients with this disease now live many years with an excellent quality of life since they are treated appropriately and receive intensive and regular antiviral drugs.

However, researchers at Copenhagen University in Denmark studied over 30,000 patients and observed the increasing incidence of heart problems in patients with AIDS, higher than expected for their age group. They found a direct relationship between cardiac complications and medications taken against the HIV virus.

They believe that these drugs in the blood release significant amounts of toxic substances that persist for many years in the body. These substances raise levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even death in more than 12% of cases.

The most susceptible groups of people with AIDS would be the elderly, diabetics, hypertensives and smokers.


Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Oksana Orlovskaya