“I have come to realize that there is, literally, no evidence that can dent the cholesterol hypothesis… The effect of this study on the cardiovascular research community was….as you would expect…nothing at all, a deafening silence…”
Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, UK cardiologist
A nationwide study conducted by UCLA School of Medicine found that 75 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had LDL cholesterol within the so called safe range – below 130 mg/dl. (21 percent of the patients were taking a statin cholesterol-lowering drug.) Even more astounding, 50 percent of patients had LDL less than 100 mg/dL – considered optimal levels!
The UCLA research team used a national database sponsored by the American Heart Association’s “Get with the Guidelines program.” The database includes information on patients hospitalized for cardiovascular disease at 541 hospitals across the country. The study was published in the American Heart Journal, January 2009.
The researchers analyzed data from 136,905 patients whose lipid levels upon hospital admission were documented in the AHA data base. This accounted for 59 percent of total hospital admissions for heart attack at participating hospitals between 2000 and 2006.
Now don’t you think the researchers would conclude something like the following:
- Taking expensive statin drugs to lower your blood cholesterol may please your doctor but you are not effectively protecting yourself from a heart attack?
- Or, heart attacks suffered by 136,905 patients in an American Heart Association data base of 541 hospitals across the country did not reveal an association between elevated cholesterol and heart attacks.
This should have been the nail in the coffin on the Diet Heart or cholesterol hypothesis, but not according to study director Dr. Gregg C. Fanarow, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, who concluded:
“Almost 75 percent of heart attack patients fell within recommended targets for LDL cholesterol, demonstrating that the current guidelines may not be low enough to cut heart attack risk… “
May not be low enough!
How low can we go? Low cholesterol is associated with accidents, depression, and cancer? Wouldn’t it make more sense to conclude that elevated cholesterol is not the cause of heart attacks, the cholesterol hypothesis is wrong, and the National Cholesterol Education Program should vote itself out of business?
Dr. Fonarow disclosed that he has conducted research for GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer and serves as a consultant and has received honorarium from the following drug companies: Abbott, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer and Schering Plough companies.
Published on July 13, 2004, the new more stringent cholesterol-lowering guidelines boosted statin sales from $15 billion in 2004 to over $23 billion in 2005. And now we are reminded once again that there is no good evidence to support the still unproven hypothesis that lowering cholesterol with drugs or diet will reduce cardiovascular disease or the risk of heart attack.
Cholesterol continues to be demonized and statins are being pushed more and more to lower cholesterol lower and lower, while the majority of people dying prematurely from heart failure have low cholesterol.
Winston Churchill said: “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”