The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

December 2, 2013

Mitigating heart risks with statin drugs

CLINTON — DEAR DR. ROACH: A recent column mentioned statin drugs and their effect on women. In August 2008, my internist said studies had shown that statin drugs for diabetics promoted heart health. At the time, my A1c was 5.8, total cholesterol 139 and LDL 75. He prescribed 5 mg Crestor every other day. By June 2009, my total cholesterol was 104 and LDL 43. My internist still wanted me to continue with Crestor, but lowered it to twice a weekly because I was concerned that my LDL was too low. I have a new internist now, and my last report shows total cholesterol 110, HDL and LDL 56. My A1c is 5.7. She suggests I consider stopping Crestor. The internist who prescribed Crestor specialized in diabetes, and the doctor I see now does not. I’m 65 and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 10 years ago. — S.M.

ANSWER: Statin drugs have been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and death in many different populations. As a general rule, the higher the risk of heart disease to begin with, the more benefit from statins. Men have higher risk than women, and diabetics have a higher risk than non-diabetics.

The higher the total or LDL cholesterol, the higher the risk, but also low HDL cholesterol levels increase risk of heart disease. Of course, the older you are, the higher the risk. Your doctor needs to keep all of these risks in mind, as well as your family history, diet and exercise habits, smoking history and blood pressure, in order to determine whether to recommend a statin to you.

Some authorities recommend treating people with diabetes with a statin regardless of LDL level. I used an online calculator to estimate your risk of a heart attack in the next five years based on your cholesterol without treatment, and it is about 5 percent. With treatment, your risk drops to about 4 percent. So the medication does reduce your risk a bit: 100 people like you would need to be treated for five years to prevent one heart attack.

As far as the dangers of too-low LDL go, there was some concern about it in the 1980s, but more recent data suggests that even very low LDL from statins doesn’t cause problems.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am in the market to purchase an infrared sauna for health purposes.

My research indicates that infrared is good for many health reasons, such as arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, detox, cholesterol, weight loss, relieving muscle pain, helping kill cancer cells, etc.

I have arthritis, and my boyfriend has diabetes. My question is this: Is this all true, and can it help me to become a healthier person? I would use the sauna daily or three to four times a week.

Do you feel it is worth the purchase as a preventive tool for staying healthy? — D.O.

ANSWER: An infrared sauna uses light waves to heat up the body. People have been using traditional saunas for centuries, and many swear by their benefits. There is good evidence that saunas (and infrared saunas in particular) can reduce pain and stiffness from some kinds of arthritis. Unfortunately, there isn’t evidence to support it, and I doubt that saunas do help with “detox,” weight loss or killing cancer cells. I would caution your boyfriend with diabetes, because some people with diabetes are less sensitive to heat and could be burned without knowing it.



Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

 

1
Text Only
Food & Health
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    August 1, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 31, 2014

  • Fist bump photo Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watermelon Think beyond the slice with refreshing watermelon

    Watermelon is one of those foods you really don’t need to overthink.
    Slice it. Eat it. Spit out the occasional seed. Done.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8M in refunds

    The federal government says insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8 million in refunds because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act.

    July 24, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs WASHINGTON (AP) — Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.The weak link seemed to be call cente

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Illinois patients to docs: 'What about marijuana?'

    Illinois doctors, nursing homes, hospitals and hospice organizations are ramping up for their role as gatekeepers in the state's new medical marijuana program.

    July 23, 2014

  • Amanda Stecker Herbs make a better way to flavor meals Summer is a season full of fresh herbs. This is the best time of year to take advantage of the fresh herbs in the grocery store. Herbs add a boost of flavor without added sodium and are rich in antioxidants. Herbs are easy to incorporate into everyda

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Genome Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia WASHINGTON, D.C. — Scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.Such work could eventually point to new treatments, although they are many y

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.