Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cholesterol: How Low is Too Low?

In my last post I talked about how cholesterol is measured (often erroneously) and mentioned a test where mine was down to 25. Well, you can imagine how my eye-brows and ears shot up when I saw that number (think Mr. Spock). So, like any good consumer advocate I dug in to answer today's question, "How Low is Too Low?" I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I discovered what currently has the traditional medical community's collective undies in a bundle over this issue.

First, let's give the short answer. Nobody knows what is too low but most cutting-edge cardiologists "guestimate" about 40-50 mmol/L just to be safe. Now, on to the fun. An obscure study published in the technical journal Laboratory Investigation shows that cholesterol blocks the damaging effects of alcohol on the Sonic hedgehog protein of zebrafish embryos. I SWEAR AM I NOT MAKING THIS UP! Here is the link if you need a laugh or are suffering from insomnia.

Apparently, some nut-job alarmists in the medical community (and probably the anti-drug zealots) are waving this all over the press as evidence that we should rethink the use of statins and lowering cholesterol. Are these people FREAKIN NUTS?! Sonic hedgehog protein? Zebrafish embryos? For Christ-sake this was a study investigating Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Defects. Talk about a leap. I'd have a better chance of making a leap over the Grand Canyon. Lord knows I am the first to begin speculation over arcane research but this . . . this is just over the top even for me! Let me explain it this way.

1. The head bone is connected to the neck bone
2. The neck bone is connected to the back bone
3. The back bone is connected to the butt bone.
4. Ergo, these guys have their heads up their butts!

I am ALWAYS looking for an interesting theory, titilating speculation, or a good conspiracy. But when I am looking for nuts, I'll stick to pistachios (well, almonds and walnuts are actually better for you, but, as I always say, that's the subject of another blog). Well, I did learn something. Sonic Hedgehogs are not just for video-games anymore!

My personal advice, keep taking your cholesterol medication until your doctor tells you not to.




Terri said...

Well, hey that's great, but by the fourth or fifth time that I was nearly incapacitated by a statin medication at moderate dosage (physically, and the mental lapses and fuzziness were not appropriate for one at the half-century mark) ... despite the 200 mgs. a day of Co Q-10... One might just be wondering if there just might be something to that "too low" thinking. What good are "perfect numbers" if you become a blithering, aching idiot who cannot even navigate up a set of stairs due to unrelenting and severe muscle pain, ache and spasm?

Since my current doc is a zealot who thinks he invented "reversal", wrote a book about it, and is not shy about prescribing 3 or more prescription cholesterol lowering meds to hammer the patient down to "perfect numbers", what's an informed patient to do? This guy even pooh, poohs some of the alternatives Dr. Davis recommends, like fish oil, oat bran, etc. ... given this scenario... no wonder I'm looking for another (preventive) cardio doc!

Information = power. Prescription statins cannot be the answer for everyone. Unfortunately most physicians are not so attuned to the patient, nor as cutting edge as the Track Your Plaque program. Waiting for my doc to tell me NOT to take statins could cost me a lot more than I am willing to wager.

Carry on, Hawk... you do give an interesting perspective to things!

HeartHawk said...


I think you hit the nail on the head. We are ALL diffrent and will respond differently to different treatments. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to educate yourself and pay attention to what your body tells you. The medical studies tell us just what works for most BUT NOT ALL people.

Dr. Davis was the third doc I saw and, even though I put him at the top of the heap, I still get into lengthy debates with him. I remember one of his quotes that I think you will enjoy. "What good is it if I keep you alive until your 82 if your miserable all the time?"

One size fits all medicine is malpractice in my book.


P.S. May I ask who your doc is? If you prefer to keep the name off the blog send it to me at and I'll keep it in confidence.

Blog Directory - Blogged