Care needed when controlling cholesterol

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on October 23rd, 2020

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

By: Tara Maltman-Just

Posted: 01/26/2014 1:00 AM | Comments:

Cholesterol medications lower more than cholesterol

It would appear to be a straight-forward concept: cholesterol medications lower high cholesterol. If we focus on that alone, however, it's like taking a still snapshot of a full-length motion picture.

Excessively high levels of cholesterol in the blood -- referred to as hypercholesterolemia or dyslipidemia -- may pose a threat to good heart health. This is common knowledge. A lesser known fact involves a certain class of cholesterol medications, and that they may adversely affect our health as well.

A patient in his mid-40s was feeling low, lacking his normal zest. Some may call it a mid-life crisis (at least if you asked his wife), but in retrospect it was clear that his hormone levels were on the gradual decline. And yes, andropause does exist. He went to see his doctor, and his mood worsened when he was diagnosed with high cholesterol. A simple step -- he was placed on a prescription -- and the numbers on the lab report improved. So why did he feel so much worse?

Forty per cent of Canadians have high cholesterol, well-diagnosed in our nation, no doubt. Guidelines recommend routine screening for men above age 40 and women over age 50 or post-menopausal, and earlier with other risk factors such as family history or erectile dysfunction. The most-common treatment is a prescription for a "statin," which works by attacking cholesterol synthesis in our liver, lowering the production of "bad" cholesterol (LDL). Here's a not-so-novel breakthrough -- our body makes cholesterol for a reason.

And many people only begin understanding this once they've experienced new symptoms: memory lapses, muscle pain, lethargy and decreased zest for life.

Our brain is comprised of 70 per cent fat, and it uses cholesterol to release neurotransmitters that help us focus, process information and remember. Maybe you do have a legitimate reason for forgetting to take the statin every night. Lowering cholesterol synthesis in the liver can also impair the growth of new brain cells.

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Care needed when controlling cholesterol

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