Question: Can I phase out statins and ezetimibe and rely on healthy nutrition to combat high cholesterol levels?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Statins have revolutionized lipid management and are associated with plaque regression and decreased rate of recurrent stroke or heart attack. Statins reduce the synthesis of cholesterol that is made in the liver. I have yet to see any diet that can approximate the benefits seen with a good statin (such as Crestor or Lipitor).
Zetia (ezetimbe) is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor, and if you’re going to stop taking either drug, I’d recommend stopping the Zetia, not the statin. Monitor your cholesterol levels once you’re off Zetia. Good nutrition and high fiber (30 grams or more of soluble fiber), combined with a suitable exercise program, may be sufficient for many people.
While Zetia also improves cholesterol numbers, there doesn’t seem to be the same benefit seen with statins, perhaps because the statins also act as anti-inflammatories. But before stopping either drug, consult your physician.
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