Is Popping a Pill a Benefit or a Risk?

by admin on April 15, 2011

Have you ever heard about someone who had a heart bypass or a heart attack and the story always goes, “Wow, one of  Jane’s arteries was 90% blocked and the other was 80% blocked.  It’s always so dramatic you wonder how the person could have been walking around with such blocked arteries.  The difference is, “Good” and “Bad” cholesterol!  Which do you have, good or bad?

You want to have a lot of the so-called good cholesterol, HDL  because it seems to protect against heart attack.  Most medical experts believe that it carries cholesterol through the blood stream back to the liver, some experts believe that HDL actually gathers the plaque that the “bad” LDL left in the walls of the arteries and veins and slows the build up.  That’s right, LDL is bad because the cholesterol builds up and slowly constricts the blood flow to the heart and the brain.

Donate Blood and You Get a Free Cholesterol Reading Too!

You can check your cholesterol for free!  When I donate blood the Blood Centers of the Pacific Blood Bank sends me information about the level of my cholesterol.  They don’t break it out into “good” cholesterol, HDL, high density lipoprotein and “bad” LDL, low density lipoprotein but it will tell you your over all cholesterol level which should be under 200.

So I was very surprised  the last time I donated blood  and checked my levels of cholesterol it was really high!  I knew I had to do something about it unless I wanted to be like “Jane”, so I went to the Dr. who promptly wrote me a prescription for Lipitor, the well known cholesterol lowering drug, with a number of possible side effects.  In fact, Lipitor has so many possible side effects that the fast talking voice at the end of the commercial almost takes a full 1/3 of the commercial to read the list, really, really fast.

“Don’t take this if you are overweight, have blue eyes, are pregnant, know anyone who is pregnant, are the son or daughter of anyone who is pregnant or can even spell the word pregnant.”

It’s not just Lipitor, but many prescribed statins have possible side effects.  Side effects like muscle pain, liver damage, digestive problems, constipation, diarrhea,nausea, rash or flushing, some researchers are studying the link of  statins to memory loss and even Lou Gerig’s Disease.    So when the Dr. prescribed Lipitor to take down my cholesterol level, I reminded her of all  the possible side effects, but she said not to worry, she would keep track of my liver health by taking blood tests every few months.  I wasn’t sold on the idea, but I thought I’d give it a try.

It’s Always About The Money!

I don’t like to take pills!  No one does right? However, my cholesterol was extremely high and I thought, “Better get this down quickly” and since I didn’t know any pregnant people I thought maybe I’d try the prescription, because I have tried just about everything else.  I eat meat, but not often, I exercise 5 or 6 days a week 1 hour at least, I walk up and down the hills of San Francisco sometimes 3 times a day!  I am committed to staying healthy through exercise and good eating habits.  Besides my mother in law is 84 and she walks up and down the hills of Sausalito and I am convinced that the exercise and her diet have kept her healthy and physically fit.  However, with all that said, I still had through the roof cholesterol.  So I rationalized the risks and voted for the benefits.

It wasn’t till I went to pick up my new pills that the risks really won!  The bill for a 3 month supply of Lipitor was $646.00 dollars!  Right!  I immediately recalculated the risk factor, the idea that once prescribed, it is hard to wean yourself off of the prescription and finally the cost to my funds.   I just said “No! You can restock these pills!”

Live As If  Your Life Depended On It!

I really went to work to find out all the foods that lower cholesterol and I cut out most of the foods that raise it.  I found Chinese Black Fungus mushrooms which are thought to lower cholesterol, I begain eating more vegetables like kale and beets, I chewed on walnuts and chopped up avacado for lunch and when I was out for dinner I didn’t always choose a meat dish.

In a month my cholesterol was 70 points lower!  Yes!

There are some side effects though,

I finally fit into my skinny jeans! 


 

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