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Herbal supplements may not be as effective as they are believed. Xvision/Getty Images

  • A new study compares the effectiveness of so-called cholesterol-lowering supplements to a statin, rosuvastatin.
  • While the statin lowered participants’ LDL cholesterol over a period of 28 days, the dietary supplements performed no better than the placebo.
  • It is important to note that the manufacturer of rosuvastatin, AstraZeneca, funded the study.

To assess a patient’s risk of heart disease and stroke, the yearly physical examination routinely screens for high bad cholesterol levels in the blood. If cholesterol levels are too high, one’s physician will likely recommend getting them under control to promote continued health.

High cholesterol levels — when total blood cholesterol is equal to or greater than 200 mg/dL — may be addressed in several ways. The goal is to reduce so-called “bad” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, LDL or even LDL-C. BAD comprises most of your overall bad cholesterol.

A doctor is most likely to suggest adopting a heart-healthy diet and may prescribe a statin, an LDL-lowering drug.

Various non-pharmaceutical supplements have also become popular for reducing LDL. However , as cardiologist Dr. Jennifer Wong told Medical Information Today , “we see a lot associated with anecdotal reports about the benefits of health supplements and not what it actually does to the LDL. ”

Dr . Wong is the medical director of Non-Invasive Cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute in Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.

A new study funded by AstraZeneca , the manufacturer of Crestor (rosuvastatin), a statin drug, investigates the effects of such supplements upon LDL levels.

The products tested in the study were fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols , and red yeast rice. Their effect on LDL was compared in order to that of rosuvastatin and placebo, in what Dr. Wong — who was not really involved in the research — called a “head-to-head statin-drug-against-the-supplements [competition]. ”

The study found that the tested supplements did no much better than placebo at lowering LDL amounts. Nevertheless , rosuvastatin lowered BAD levels simply by 35. 2%, compared with placebo.

The particular study will be published within the Journal of the particular American College of Cardiology .

First author and principal investigator associated with the study, Dr. Luke Laffin , co-director of the Center with regard to Blood Pressure Disorders from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, tells the American Heart Association Newsroom :

“According to some 2020 market research analysis, Americans spend an estimated $50 billion on dietary supplements annually, and many are marketed regarding ‘heart protection’ or ‘cholesterol management. ’ Yet there is minimal-to-no research demonstrating these advantages. ”

“Some people also believe supplements are as effective or more effective than cholesterol-lowering statin medications, ” says Doctor Laffin.

“Clearly, not everyone needs to take the statin, but those with elevated LDL-C plus elevated cardiovascular risk (as were studied in our trial) should with least have a discussion with their physician concerning the potential benefits of statin therapy in combination with healthy lifestyle choices. I do not see any benefits in taking a supplement for ‘heart health. ’”
— Dr. Lomaz Laffin, speaking to Medical News Today

Michelle Routhenstein, cardiology dietitian on EntirelyNourished. com , who had been not active in the study, informed MNT :

“This study hasn’t provided new information, but it reinforces the lack of validity for the unregulated supplement market. ”

The study tracked LDL levels inside 199 adult participants. Their ages ranged from 40 to 75. Each had zero history of cardiovascular disease.

Their BAD levels varied from 70 mg/dL in order to 189 mg/dL — optimal LDL amounts are less than 100, and ranges above 160 are considered moderately high. The researchers estimated that their danger of developing atherosclerotic cardio disease in the next 10 years varied from 5% to 20%.

Researchers randomly selected the participants to take either a placebo each day, 5 mg of rosuvastatin each day, or a daily dose associated with:

  • Nature Made® fish oil supplements, 2, 400 mg
  • Nutriflair™ brand cinnamon, 2, four hundred mg
  • Garlique™ brand garlic clove with 5, 000 mcg of allicin
  • BioSchwartz brand turmeric curcumin with bioperine 4, 500 mg
  • Character Made® CholestOff Plus™ with 1, 600 mg of plant sterols
  • Arazo Nutrition brand associated with red yeast rice, 2, 400 magnesium.

The study lasted for 28 days.

Dr. Laffin said the trial duration was “consistent with widely accepted Cardiovascular Society-endorsed guidelines. The the majority of recent AHA/ACC lipid recommendations state, ‘Assess adherence and percentage response to LDL-C–lowering medications and lifestyle changes with repeat lipid measurement [after] four to twelve weeks’. ”

“In some cases, bringing down LDL cholesterol [in a] timely [manner] is usually imperative, plus therefore [the study is] a good preliminary assessment, ” Routhenstein noted.

The particular study focused on lowering LDL rather compared to more generally improving coronary heart health, Doctor. Wong pointed out.

“I think intended for heart endpoints, you would need much longer studies, you know, for whether there’s actual lowering of death and heart attacks and strokes, ” she said.

“But one could extrapolate that if you’re not really going in order to lower BAD with the medication, that you may not see as much associated with those center endpoints along with the dietary supplements as you do with the statins, ” the girl stressed.

“In fact, many drugs that will lower LDL have not really necessarily been able to show those cardiovascular endpoints even after decades, whereas statins have shown that they not just lower LDL yet improve the heart endpoints of death plus heart assaults and stroke. ”
— Dr. Jennifer Wong

As far because supplements go, “There might be some cardiovascular advantages and anecdotal evidence to get benefit through the supplements, and certainly reassurance that the supplements don’t hurt a person, ” Dr . Wong noted.

Dr. Laffin said that certain statins may have different efficacies along with respect to lowering LDL-C, based on their % decrease. “They are generally grouped into low-, moderate-, and high intensity, ” he said.

“In general, statins that possess the most efficacy, the highest potency, are rosuvastatin, which was used in this study, plus atorvastatin, ” said Doctor Wong.

Dr . Laffin said that statins were generally very safe. While some people taking statins complain of muscle pain, previous research suggests that this is definitely partly attributable to a “ nocebo ” effect.

Although nearly 30% of those studied quit their treatment due to muscle mass pain, experts found the particular actual incidence of discomfort to be only about 5% more among patients getting a statin, compared with patients given a placebo.

“The nocebo impact of statins — and the studies that will rigorously demonstrate this — actually shows that statin-associated muscle tissue symptoms are quite rare , ” Doctor Laffin said .

However , Dr. Wong added that myopathy can be a side effect of statins for some people.

“Some studies show over 25%. In terms associated with life threatening complications from statins, the incidence can be very low, ” the lady said.

When it comes to preserving and promoting coronary heart health, nutrition may end up being a more effective strategy in the long term, instead of relying on supplements.

“Adopting a truly nutrient-focused heart-healthy diet will be a beneficial approach in order to optimizing center and bloodstream vessel health. You can be on a statin or a multitude of supplements and still have plaque formation in the arteries if we are not implementing a really, science-based heart-healthy nutrition plus lifestyle, ” said Routhenstein.

Doctor. Wong stated healthy eating was essential “whether you’re on a statin or not. Anybody, even if these people don’t have the cardiovascular problem yet, should be in a [preventive ] mode.

“[It’s] primary prevention before an event happens and secondary prevention for those who have already had a heart attack plus stroke. A heart-healthy diet plan has already been shown within multiple trials to improve outcomes, ” she added.

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