Yes, some people need drugs, but many more need to change what they eat.
Since the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued new cholesterol guidelines last Tuesday, a volcano of opinion has erupted over whether too many lower-risk patients would now be put on statins, whether the drug companies played too central a role in crafting the new guidelines, and even whether statins are at all effective in preventing cardiac events.
None of these arguments addresses the real issue. Cardiac disease is affected by genetic predisposition, but ultimately it is a foodborne illness, and therefore food, and only food, can be the real solution.
I do prescribe statins for my patients who need them, but I also tell my patients that if they want to be healthy, they must fundamentally change the food that they eat. The idea that the number of Americans on statins may double to 70 million is sheer insanity, not because statins don’t do anything, but because they treat a problem that only food can solve.
The analogy I like to use is that these new guidelines are as misguided as if the American Lung Association were to tell smokers that it was OK to keep smoking and just use more inhalers.
Recognizing that patients are confused about what it means to eat right, I cofounded TruhealthMD.com, a small company that produces single-serve foods that aim to help people reduce their risk factors for cardiac disease. But our approach isn’t the only solution. If patients would make small changes in their diets, such as replacing their daily doughnut with a bowl of blueberries, over the course of a year they would enjoy significantly improved health.
To decrease the incidence of heart disease in this country, we cannot just treat the symptoms; we must treat the cause. That cause is the food we eat.
Dr. ELIZABETH KLODAS
The writer is a Minneapolis cardiologist.
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