high cholesterol

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High cholesterol and its impacts are frequently discussed on the , including dietary considerations, medications, and health implications.

  1. Dietary Cholesterol vs. Serum Cholesterol: There is significant debate regarding whether dietary cholesterol directly impacts serum cholesterol (LDL and HDL). Both and discuss this, differentiating between cholesterol and fat, and emphasizing the complexity of cholesterol's role in the body 1.

  2. Cholesterol Medications: Different classes of drugs, such as statins and Ezetimibe, are commonly used to manage cholesterol levels. Statins work by reducing the body's cholesterol synthesis and increasing LDL receptor expression in the liver, while Ezetimibe blocks cholesterol absorption in the gut 2. The PCSK9 inhibitors are highlighted as the most potent, significantly reducing cholesterol levels by preventing the degradation of LDL receptors 3.

    Debating Dietary Cholesterol

    Andrew and Peter discuss the relationship between dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and serum cholesterol levels. They differentiate between cholesterol and fat and explain the importance of cholesterol in the human body. They also share their views on the impact of saturated fat intake on health and how to interpret cholesterol charts.

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    Dr. Peter Attia: Exercise, Nutrition, Hormones for Vitality & Longevity | Huberman Lab Podcast #85
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  3. APOB and Atherosclerosis: APOB is identified as the key causative agent for atherosclerosis, rather than just focusing on LDL levels. Maintaining low APOB levels, ideally below 30 milligrams per deciliter, is crucial for reducing the risk of heart disease 4.

  4. Overall Cholesterol Confusion: The literature on cholesterol can be conflicting, making it difficult to draw clear conclusions. While some argue that high LDL levels are detrimental and should be minimized, others note that factors such as CRP (C-reactive protein) are also critical markers of cardiovascular health 5.

Understanding these nuances and the role of cholesterol in overall health requires a personalized approach, often involving discussions with healthcare providers. For deeper insights, refer to episodes such as Using Play to Rewire & Improve Your Brain.

RELATED QUESTIONS

What causes high cholesterol?

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High cholesterol can be caused by a range of factors, as discussed on the .

  1. Genetic Factors: Conditions like familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) play a significant role. FH leads to very high LDL levels due to a genetic mutation affecting cholesterol metabolism. In such cases, medications like statins and strict dietary adjustments are often necessary 1.

  2. Diet and Lifestyle: High consumption of saturated and trans fats, found in many processed and fried foods, can elevate LDL cholesterol. notes that reducing sugar and overall carbohydrate intake can significantly lower triglyceride levels and consequently reduce LDL levels 1.

  3. Lipoproteins Impact: Cholesterol is transported through the blood by lipoproteins. The high-density lipoprotein (HDL) generally helps remove cholesterol from arteries, while low-density lipoprotein (LDL) deposits it. The balance and types of these lipoproteins, particularly the presence of small dense LDL, are crucial in determining overall cholesterol health 2.

  4. Insulin Resistance and Triglycerides: High triglyceride levels are often a marker of poor metabolic health and can contribute to higher levels of LDL. Reducing insulin resistance by managing blood sugar levels is essential for maintaining lower levels of harmful LDL particles 1.

Understanding these factors can help in managing and potentially reducing high cholesterol through a combination of genetic aware treatments, lifestyle changes, and dietary adjustments.

Statins and LDL: Debunking the Myth

Robert and Andrew discuss the misconceptions around statins and LDL cholesterol, highlighting the importance of understanding the different types of LDL particles and the role of triglycerides in cardiovascular health. They also touch on the knowledge of big pharma and big food industries regarding these facts.

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Dr. Robert Lustig: How Sugar & Processed Foods Impact Your Health
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statins

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Statins are a class of drugs primarily used to lower cholesterol levels in the blood, particularly LDL cholesterol, which is often referred to as "bad cholesterol." provides an in-depth explanation of how statins operate and their effects:

  1. Mechanism of Action: Statins work both directly and indirectly by targeting an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, which is a crucial component in the cholesterol synthesis pathway. By inhibiting this enzyme, these drugs reduce the overall cholesterol production in the body. This reduction prompts the liver to increase its LDL receptor activity, pulling more LDL out of circulation and thereby lowering plasma cholesterol levels 1.

  2. Combination with Other Drugs: Statins are often used in combination with other cholesterol-lowering drugs like Ezetimibe, which blocks cholesterol absorption in the intestines. This further aids in reducing overall cholesterol levels with minimal side effects as Ezetimibe acts largely outside the body 1.

  3. Effectiveness and Use: Statins are especially effective for secondary prevention of heart disease. For people with conditions like familial hypercholesterolemia, statins are crucial alongside a low-fat diet. However, their effectiveness for primary prevention (preventing initial cardiovascular events in high-risk individuals without existing heart disease) is subject to debate. Some data suggest minimal increase in lifespan for primary prevention 2 3.

    Cholesterol Drugs

    Peter Attia explains how statins and Ezetimibe work to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Statins target an enzyme that reduces the body's pool of cholesterol while Ezetimibe blocks a transporter in the gut that absorbs cholesterol. While statins have some side effects, Ezetimibe has virtually none.

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  4. Side Effects: Statins can cause various side effects. Muscle soreness is relatively common, affecting about 5% of users. Other potential issues include brain fog and a slight increase in diabetes risk due to potential insulin resistance. Nevertheless, modern statins have a relatively benign side effect profile compared to earlier versions, and regular monitoring can help manage these risks 4 5.

In summary, statins are a potent tool for managing cholesterol levels and reducing cardiovascular risk, particularly in individuals with pre-existing conditions or significant genetic predispositions. Nonetheless, their use should be carefully tailored to the individual's health profile and monitored for possible side effects.

RELATED QUESTIONS

statin

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Statins are a widely discussed topic in the podcast, particularly in relation to cholesterol management and overall health. Here are some key insights shared by different experts on the podcast:

  1. Mechanism of Action:

    • Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a crucial role in cholesterol synthesis. This inhibition reduces the body's pool of cholesterol, prompting the liver to increase its LDL receptors, thereby lowering LDL cholesterol levels in circulation 1 2.
  2. Effectiveness for Different Types of Prevention:

    • Statins are highly effective for secondary prevention (for those who've already had cardiovascular events or have conditions like familial hypercholesterolemia). However, their effectiveness for primary prevention (preventing the first cardiovascular event) is debatable. Data show a minimal increase in lifespan for primary prevention, averaging only about four days 3 4.

      Cholesterol Drugs

      Peter Attia explains how statins and Ezetimibe work to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Statins target an enzyme that reduces the body's pool of cholesterol while Ezetimibe blocks a transporter in the gut that absorbs cholesterol. While statins have some side effects, Ezetimibe has virtually none.

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      Dr. Peter Attia: Improve Vitality, Emotional & Physical Health & Lifespan | Huberman Lab Podcast
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  3. Combination with Other Medications:

    • Statins are often combined with other cholesterol-lowering drugs like Ezetimibe, which blocks cholesterol absorption in the gut. This combination can further reduce overall cholesterol levels with minimal side effects 1.
  4. Side Effects:

    • Common side effects of statins include muscle soreness, which affects about 5% of users, and can sometimes lead to debilitating pain 5. Other side effects may include brain fog and a slight increase in diabetes risk due to potential insulin resistance. Modern statins have a relatively low side effect profile compared to earlier versions 5.
  5. Cholesterol and Longevity:

    • There is a discussion on the different types of LDL particles—large buoyant and small dense LDL. Large buoyant LDL, which dietary fat tends to raise, is cardiovascularly neutral, whereas small dense LDL, linked to carbohydrate consumption, is atherogenic. Reducing small dense LDL by reducing sugar and thus insulin levels is critical for cardiovascular health 3 4.

In summary, statins are a potent tool for managing cholesterol levels, particularly effective for secondary prevention of heart disease. However, their use should be carefully considered and monitored due to potential side effects, and their benefits for primary prevention are limited.

RELATED QUESTIONS

What are alternatives to statins?

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There are several alternatives to statins for managing cholesterol levels discussed in the podcast. Here are some of the key alternatives:

  1. Ezetimibe:

    • This drug blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the gut by inhibiting the Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) transporter. Ezetimibe has minimal side effects and is often used in combination with statins to further reduce cholesterol levels 1 2.
  2. Bempedoic Acid:

    • Bempedoic Acid is a newer drug that blocks cholesterol synthesis specifically in the liver, as opposed to statins that affect the entire body. This can result in fewer side effects than statins, making it a suitable option for those who experience adverse reactions to statins 1.
  3. PCSK9 Inhibitors:

    • These are injectable drugs that work by inhibiting the protein PCSK9, which increases the amount of LDL receptors on the liver to clear more LDL cholesterol from the blood. They can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels and are particularly useful for those who don't tolerate statins well. 2.
  4. Lifestyle Modifications:

    • Dietary changes, such as reducing intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, increasing fiber intake, and incorporating plant sterols and stanols, can help manage cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity, weight management, and quitting smoking are also crucial for overall cardiovascular health 2.

By exploring these alternatives, individuals can find effective methods to manage cholesterol levels that may better fit their health profiles and personal preferences. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to medication or lifestyle.

Cholesterol Medications

Peter and Andrew discuss different types of cholesterol medications, including statins and bempidoic acid. They explain how these drugs work and their potential side effects. The speakers also touch on the importance of maintaining certain levels of cholesterol and how to measure them.

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