Cholesterol drug has added heart benefits

By Deborah Condon

A drug normally used to treat people with high cholesterol levels has been found to dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with normal cholesterol levels also, researchers have said.

In fact trials into the drug have proved so convincing that a major study, which was to last five years and included patients from Ireland, has been halted prematurely after just three years.

The drug, atorvastatin calcium, is currently available in Ireland under the name Lipitor. It is a prescription drug used in conjunction with diet to lower cholesterol. It is currently not indicated to treat or prevent heart disease

The study into the drug, known as the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT), involved almost 20,000 patients. All participants were required to have hypertension (high blood pressure) and at least three other cardiac risk factors, such as being over 55 years of age or being a smoker.

However half of the participants had cholesterol levels that were normal or only slightly elevated, therefore it would not be standard practise to treat them with Lipitor.

During the study, they were given either a 10mg dose of the drug or a placebo. The risk of heart attack and stroke was reduced by one-third among the 5,000 participants with normal cholesterol levels, who were given the drug.

"We believe these results provide evidence that patients with high blood pressure and normal to slight elevation of cholesterol can benefit from cholesterol lowering medication", said Dr Joe Feczko, president of world-wide development at Pfizer, which manufactures Lipitor.


Chris(mianais) - 13/10/2002 00:14

When will this be available? I have high blood pressure etc.

john(jma274) - 13/10/2002 13:20

good news for me,have been using lipitor 3 yrs would love to hear more

Anonymous - 15/10/2002 17:35


jean(jeansmith) - 16/10/2002 20:14

I have been taking Lipitor for about 18months as I was found to have a high Cholesterol count (9.4) during a routine blood test by my Dr. If this reduces heart attack/ stroke risks I am quite happy to continue taking it. For the record I am 51, weigh 9st 8lb and do not eat fatty food, have a sweet tooth or drink alcohol.-- but I do smoke.

frank(fcall) - 16/10/2002 22:01

I have high blood pressure and am on betaloc. i am also on Lipotor 20mg per day. Will i need to continue with betaloc now owing to the good news re lipotor?

Anonymous - 17/10/2002 01:21

My Cholesterol was very high. My Doctor put me on Lipitor one year ago, my Cholesterol is now normal.

Margaret(Margf) - 19/10/2002 17:38

I have been taking Lioostat for a number of years ,recently increased to 40mgs,Is this a different drug from Lipitor?

esther(snoozy) - 20/10/2002 20:19

could you tell me what is considered as high cholesterol as I have been thould by my doctor, that mine is 8.5

Eileen(eileenb) - 30/10/2002 18:12

I have been one of the voluntary patients,on the ASCOT STUDY for the past 4 years,I am delighted at the results of the study my parents both died in their fifties. My brother also died at 48yrs all from heart attacksiTS GREAT THAT DOCTORS WILL NOW BE ABLE TO HELP OTHERS.

Anonymous - 04/12/2002 19:34

I am pleased with positive effect of Lipitor and just wonder if there are any downsides actual or anticipated

william(powerbill) - 13/08/2003 18:29

I am also on lipitor for a number of years as my cholestrol was, and still remains high,are there any side effects to remaining on the drug for a long time.

charlie(charlie01) - 10/12/2003 11:21

i have had angina for 4 years just had an heart attack they have just put me on the cholestrol drug simvastatin 20 mg

margaret(BYW13620) - 14/05/2004 11:59

i have 7.4 tested in cholestrol.

Eamon(eamonodo) - 25/08/2004 14:22

Lipitor/Lipostat has many side effects most notably muscle pain particularly the back

kevin(BWJ30949) - 03/07/2005 07:41

I had a heart attack and they inserted two stents. Among other drugs, I was given Lipitor and after two months I almost died from toxic hepatitus. They blamed Liptor and now I am not allowed to take it any more. My cholesterol has gone from 3 to 6.3. I often wonder if Lipitor was the culprit. Does anyone have any advice for me. Kevin Adams

Anonymous - 27/07/2005 22:21

Any more information on side-effects of Lipitor?

Tony(KHA35086) - 14/10/2005 01:08

I was diagnosed as having LDL("bad")cholesterol level of 5 in April last. After six months of taking Lipitor and major diet change(plenty of oily fish,chicken,no butter;low fat milk,red meat once a week)my TOTAL cholesterol is now 3.5.

Fluffy 1 - 27/10/2005 14:53

I have high blood pressure and i am taking medication i also have high cholesterol 6.5 would taking Olive Oil and Omega3 and Pro-Active Drinks help to lower the Cholesterol

Too Much - 08/03/2006 16:16

Cholesterol isnít the only factor in heart disease, but one that many people are concerned about. Unfortunately dieting by reducing the intake of saturated, hydrogenated and trans-fats to reduce the cholesterol coming from the food you eat is insufficient to address the problem of raised cholesterol as most of it is manufactured by your liver. You can limit your cholesterol intake all you want, but it wonít reduce the cholesterol (approx 80%)thatís manufactured in your liver. Statins address raised cholesterol by inhibiting the action of the enzyme HMGR (hydroxyl-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase)which produces cholesterol in your liver. Statins block the action of the said enzyme at one significant cost however, and that is at the production of Coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10). CoQ10 is used by every cell in your body in the production of energy. Every muscle is therefore affected by the action of a statin drug. And remember that your heart is a muscle. There are many other ways that a person can address raisd cholesterol levels throught diet and supplementation. For example, consumption of a whole red grapefruit on a dialy basis has been shown to significantly reduce overall cholesterol by as much as 16%. In addition policosanol, a compound of fatty alcohols derived primarily from sugar cane or beeswax also has shown beneficial in reducing overall cholesterol. In a trial involving 240 post-menopausal women with high cholesterol, 10 mg of policosanol taken daily for six months significantly lowered LDL levels (25.2 percent) and total cholesterol (16.7 percent). The women also experienced an overall 29.3 percent increase in HDL levels. Even though policosanol is drawn from the same plant that produces table sugar, it doesn't affect blood sugar levels when ingested. And several studies have shown that it can reduce cholesterol without creating the dangerous side effects associated with statin drugs. There is a worl of resources out there on the web. Do the research and in place of a common name for a herb, plant etc find the 'official' (be it Latin or Greek) to repeat the web search. This should point you in the direction of the more scientifically based studies. And to your doctor. And if you are not satisfied with the answers seek another.'s your money you are spending on the service and it is your health

John(johnwilliams) - 09/03/2006 21:54

I see some people are quoting cholestrol levels as though there was a fixed level for good and bad. The safe level of total cholestrol varies and depends on other risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise etc. For best advice dont waste your money buying 'sugar cane' just go along to your GP and get good scientific advice.

Too Much - 10/03/2006 16:34

John, I agree medical advice should always be sought but to remain ignorant of nature's offerings and accept that of the pharma. industry is not a wise course of action. But of course I offer this as my humble opinion. Personally I would rather avoid the side-effects of pharma drug as these all but rarely address theroot of the problem but only serve to mask it. I believe that people are intelligent enough to make there own enquiries and make there own exhaustive searches of all possible solutions. A GP is not all-knowing and cannot be expected to know everything

Trebledigit - 05/05/2006 14:41

I have been using Policosanol for 6 months and my cholesterol has come down from a pretty constant 6.4/6.6 to 4.2 at my last blood test. My doctor, who had never heard of Policosanol before and wanted to put me on statins, was amazed. The only problem I have now is trying to get a further supply. It was sold in Holland and Barrett but they have discontinued it. It looks like I will have to use mail order to USA. Anybody else know of a more local source ?

HealthNut - 30/05/2006 18:41

There is now a new policosanol product in Ireland as I had to enquire myself from my pharmacist. It's called Chol- Aid by Healthcrafts. It contains policosanol and omega 3 fish oils.

HealthNut - 31/05/2006 10:20

Actually I can be of help here- Policosanol and Omega 3 Fish Oil combined are available in CHOL-AID by Healthcrafts in Ireland- from April 2006

Too Much - 31/05/2006 12:44

Take some Niacin and CoQ10 with the Chol-Aid (if it does not already contain these) and you should be on to an even greater winner. Consider also a liver detox to remove any deposited and solidified cholesterol that significantly cause blockages and reduce the liver\'s efficiency.

HealthNut - 31/05/2006 15:49

For my curiosity- and I appreciate it may be anecdotal- Can policosanol be given in addition to statins? My Father's on 80mg Lipitor, is diabetic, hypertensive, and has intermittent claudication. He does have regular hospital check-ups re LFTs, etc. Now- I've read up quite a bit on policosanol which can apparently reduce cholesterol and reduce blood pressure- and is good for intermittent claudication- what I'm curious about is additive effects or implications.......? Obviously my Dad would need to approach the hospital consultants re any addition to his medication in this fashion- and I don't want to compromise his health in any way? The statins appear to have a defined mode of action whereas that of policosanol is not as clear...? If anyone has any comments or expertise here I'd really welcome it..?

Too Much - 31/05/2006 16:28

As always the best approach is to discuss with his doctor(s) the inclusion of policosanol in is regime. However, one piece of advice - if he is on statins he should definitely consider CoQ10 supplementation to counteract the statin side-effect, i.e the termination of coenzyme Q10 production by the liver (see posting Too Much Posted: 08/03/2006 16:16 on this board). Consider also posting your query on or/and searching their archives. Unfortunately many doctors seem to dismiss that which they know nothing about. But I do hope your father's doctors are open-minded about alternatives. Good luck in your search

Trebledigit - 06/06/2006 12:12

I mentioned above that I couldn't get Policosanol in Ireland or UK anymore with no explanation other than that there was insufficient demand for it. I sent an email order to Doctor's Trust in the US and was delighted to receive my order by courier within 10 days. It's good to know that the substance is now back in Ireland as Chol-Aid but I'm still puzzled as to how it went off the shelves in the first place.

dingles - 05/09/2006 19:07

the doctor has told me that my cholesterol count is 7.8. he has sugested i use lipitor. i am a bit nervous about takeing it after reading the lable. has anyone experienced bad effects from this drug? and if so what? i am 50 year old female, regular gym goer and not overweight, but i am a smoker.

Trebledigit - 06/09/2006 11:34

Dingles, why not try the policosanol. It's non prescription and has no side effects except where another condition is present. Do a google check on it as there are some good pages on it available. You can buy from Doctor's Trust in US and, even with a high courier delivery cost, its a lot cheaper and safer than statins. If it doesn't work for you within 3 months, you may need the statins after all.

normal - 16/10/2006 17:04

I have been on Lipitor for about 8 weeks. I have started to get mouth ulcers and facial skin dry spots (eczema -like) on nose, forehead & behind ears. I have not had these before. Also, some chest pain after exertion. Has anyone else experienced these symptoms?

pat - 22/02/2007 16:03

This explains why I have been put on Lipitor after I received a stent last month. My cholesterol has always been around 3.7-3.9. BP normal also.

tipp fan - 06/07/2007 08:10

Surely the case in yesterday's Independent by Georgina O'Halloran makes for interesting reading. I was prescribed Lipostat 40mg recently along with other drugs. However, in fairness to my specialist he doubly emphasised that I get a blood test done in exactly two weeks via my GP to ensure that there was no adverse effect to my liver.

Jenny - 10/07/2007 00:32

Lipitor has serious side effects. Liver disease is one of them. There is completely new thinking on the use of statins now and they are not necessary in most cases. All statins are the same, they are just called by different names because they are made by different companies. There have been a number (quite high) of deaths amongst people taking statins (cholesterol lowering agents) so some Doctors are now revising their use and are not happy about prescribing them. It is a multi billion dollar industry and the research is out there to prove that they are dangerous so please do not take them thinking you are necessarily doing the right thing. Also, there is strong evidence to say that cholesterol levels on their own, do not cause heart disease. In fact, some of the countries with the lowest cholesterol levels, have the highest rates of heart disease but this evidence is being suppressed. We heard all the same benefits in the past about HRT for example and now, they are telling us the complete reverse.

Niall(EOT53581) - 12/07/2007 17:06

JENNY: what are the sources for your information? I do not like taking any drugs but conspiracy theories and phrases like 'some Doctors' are not convincing. You need to back it up with solid facts & references. It is people's health (and life, as you point out) that we are dealing with. I agree that peopel are open to exploitation by drugs companies but alternatives must be credible or allegations sustainable. On the subject of alternatives ... POLICOSANOL is proposed earlier in this discussion. The VHI's website has an interesting article more or less saying that: - the only positive official trials come from Cuba (where it originates) - a controlled trial in Germany said it was of no benefit. See: I have been told (from a long-serving geriatic nurse) that grapefruit taken as a drink or eaten will lower cholesterol levels. Anyone else heard this or better, tried it successfully?

Jenny - 12/07/2007 22:31

Niall, if you look at the leaflet that comes with any statin they will tell you NOT to take grapefruit whilst you are on the medication. That is because grapefruit does indeed lower cholesterol but telling people that, does not make any money for the pharmaceutical companies now does it? It is no conspiracy theory. My own G.P. believes exactly what I have stated in my previous postings. In most of the trials statins have done nothing at all to improve overall mortality. Look up the work of Dr. David Graham and what he suffered in trying to protect the safety of the public. Read the book, "Lipitor, Thief of Memory". My own G.P. has had a number of patients who have suffered liver abnormalities whilst on statins. The companies rely on Doctors reporting these side effects but they still will not do anything about it unless it gets out of hand. Look up the drug Vioxx for arthritis which was linked to 100,000 deaths in the USA in a 2 year period. No one noticed and it was only picked up coincidentally as part of a major trial in regard to another illness. Look at the recent debacle with Aulin here. The drug was banned in all other countries except Ireland and Italy but it was still left on the market here. None of these are conspiracy theories but rather an insight into how a spin is put on something for financial gain at the expense of the patient. By the time any of these (if any) can take a law case, the companies concerned have already covered their costs 100 fold so it will not cost them any loss of profit. Look at the reseach done into statins and show me the ones that were not funded by the pharma companies? The ones not funded by the pharma companies are the ones you will have problems finding. They are there to be read but their results give the very opposite results.

Mimi - 14/07/2007 01:12

The following will also lower cholesterol: Vitamin C Udo's Choice Oil- google Dr Erasmus Udo, it makes for fascinating reading Lecithin- available from health shops Nuts My cholesterol was 6.7 and one year later, using the above, is 4!

kelly - 05/01/2008 02:33

To the 'tipp fan' The artical by Georgina O'Halloran 6/07/07 was very good, it was about my mother who died from an adverse reaction to Lipitor, you are very lucky that your GP is alert and has tested your liver, my mother was not so lucky. The more people are aware of the risks of Statins the better, always ask what the side effects can be after all it seems it is up to the patient to be aware!

jackie - 05/02/2009 16:43

As a result of an angiogram which I had yesterday(feb.4th)my consultant has now prescribed a daily dose of Lipitor,80mg,I am already taking cardicor and diovan,2.5mgs and 80mgs respectively,plus 1 nuseal.80mgs of lipitor seems very high and I would be interested in hearing of other experiences.One of my friends who has been on lipitor for quite a while,has weird dreams since starting on this medication.

LCD - 12/06/2009 19:54

Jackie, I think you would greatly benefit from reading a book by Duane Graveline, M.D. He is a medical doctor, a researcher and was an astronaut. His book is called "Statin Drugs. Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol". It was reprinted last year and is an excellent source of evidence based guidelines to help make sense of the whole cholesterol issue. He explains how cholesterol reduction has nothing to do with the benefits of statins, but that statins actually reduce inflammation which has been shown to be a big part of cardiovascular disease. He points out that you can get the benefits of safer natural anti-inflammatory substances such as omega-3, and several other supplements. Because statins inhibit production of cholesterol which is essential for brain activity, many people get side effects like memory loss, aggressiveness, suicidal feelings, etc. Also, bu blocking a very important component of the immune system, Nuclear Factor Kappa B, people on statins can get cancer.

Read this book, I got it from Amazon, and you will be in a better position to make important decisions. So far I have more than two dozen books by doctors and scientists pointing out the mistaken focus on cholesterol as the culprit in heart disease. Dr Graveline's is one of the best.

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