By now, most of you know that I am a skeptic when it comes to all things pharmaceutical. It’s not that I don’t understand the value of a good medication, because I definitely do. It’s more that Big Pharma has taken control…of basically everything, and everyone. It’s pretty simple to understand that when a company is on the stock market, they have a responsibility to sell their products. When it comes to cholesterol medication– it is estimated that one in four Americans are taking a statin drug. The big problem is, as with all medication, drugs cause side effects. While I have already gone on and on about the side effects (and in my humble opinion over prescription) of statins, for years, I would like to offer a suggestion to those that are on the fence about taking a statin drug. This has been the case for Mitch, who has a borderline cholesterol level–in the high around 230– according to his blood work. It has been this way for decades and while his primary care physicians have always pushed meds on him, our cardiologist has been resistant, hoping he could lower it a bit through lifestyle choices. This week, per the cardiologist’s suggestion, Mitch went for an incredibly quick and easy, non-invasive, test called a cardiac calcium scan or simply a calcium score. This scan, which Mitch said took less than 5 minutes, shows the presence, location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. The good news, which he got the following day, was that there was the mildest evidence of plaque, affirming his cardiologist’s suggestion of NOT going on a statin drug, but instead to stay focused on a healthy lifestyle, which always includes regular cardiovascular exercise and limiting animal products. While insurance did NOT pay for this test (perhaps one reason so many of us never even heard of it) it was only $80.00. I think we all have a right to have options, and should be told about this test before put on a medication that we may not need at all.
If you, or someone you know, is on the fence about starting (or continuing to take) a statin drug, this test might be for you. It definitely will help provide more insight, literally, to what is going on in the heart arteries! A simple google search of calcium score, will bring up lots of articles that will describe, in more detail, what it’s all about and the scales they use to determine your risks of CAD (coronary artery disease). It’s important to note that this is a scan so there is radiation involved, which may not be right for everyone.
Please pass this on. We all have a right to know about these simple tests that tell big stories. With all the controversy surrounding the statin drugs, this could be a life changer, and even a life saver! Take care of your heart and your health. Thanks for checking in. Find some peace and some fitness in your day and TGIF!