October is National Cholesterol Month.
So get ready for a barrage of scariness about high cholesterol and how we should all be taking statins to save our lives etc etc, and that this is no way is just a last way of proving money for producers of statins. I say this, because as I think I have mentioned on this blog previously, years ago a high cholesterol was 7.5 mmol/L. Then it became 6.5, then 5.5, now it is 5. Or 4, if you have had a heart attack or stroke. In the latest guidelines ‘optimal’ cholesterol level for healthy people is 4.4 mmol/L.
Indeed, according to the NHS website
As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
• 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
• 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As a general guide, LDL levels should be:
• 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
• 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
The problem with this is that – as Dr Malcolm Kendrick has pointed out in the past – we now have reached a point where it is estimated that “85% of people now have a ‘high’ cholesterol level, which needs to be lowered. This is fine so long as you do not question the inherent nonsense that the vast majority of the population can possibly have a dangerously high level of something”.
So, it was at least pleasing yesterday to see Dr Mark Porter, in The Times, say: Don’t Panic if your blood cholesterol is higher than the perceived norm.
” It is only one risk factor. Just because it is easy to measure and we have ways to reduce its levels (such as statins) doesn’t mean that cholesterol is any more important than other determinants of the likelihood of an early heart attack or stroke, such as smoking, blood pressure and family history. Indeed, it is often less so. ”
Dr Kendrick takes this view even further when he says : “Cholesterol lowering may change what is written on your death certificate, but it won’t change the date”.
In a somewhat timely manner a new short paper by Dr Kendrink and three others has also just been published with the catchy title: Inborn coagulation factors are more important cardiovascular risk factors than high LDL-cholesterol in familial hypercholesterolemia. In short the conclusion of the paper and the evidence it is based on is that it is not the raised LDL that causes an increased risk of Cardio Vascualar Disease in familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) [an inherited disorder that leads to aggressive and premature cardiovascular disease. This includes problems like heart attacks, strokes, and even narrowing of our heart valves.] such as the risk may be, in some individuals. It is the fact that FH is also genetically linked to inborn areas of blood clotting abnormalities.