Dr. Weil describes if statins, a cholesterol-lowering medication, can help a woman reduce her risk for cardiovascular disease.
Statin drugs are the most powerful drugs that we have found to lower LDL cholesterol, which is commonly called bad cholesterol, and I think there are definitely indications for them, but a woman’s cardiovascular risk is determined by many factors of which elevated LDL cholesterol is only one.
A coronary heart disease risk is a result of inflammatory pressure in the body so, you also want to do everything you can to reduce inflammation. Stress plays a role in cardiovascular disease, so it’s important to learn and practice methods of stress reduction.
Physical activity is strongly preventive of cardiovascular disease. So it’s important that women maintain physical activity throughout life. The problem with statins is that they have very focused action. They are doing one thing, which is lowering this one aspect of cholesterol. We’d also like to raise good cholesterol--HDL cholesterol. Statins don’t do that. We’d also like to lower triglycerides, blood fat; statins don’t do that.
So, while statins have their place, I don’t think they are enough, and our problem today is that doctors are so enthusiastic about statins that they often feel that once they have put a patient on them that they don’t have to pay attention to these other risk factors.
About Dr. Weil, M.D.:
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., was born in Philadelphia in 1942, received an A.B. degree in biology (botany) from Harvard in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health before writing his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971-84 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.