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I am saying goodbye to my cholesterol drug. 

Last year I dropped my blood pressure drug as part of my overall plan to divest myself from medication.

I am currently in Phase III trials of my IDA approval*.  Two more blood tests and my taper off my statin is complete.  In the end I had to make a choice.  Pills or nutrition.  I choose food to control my disease.  I could not get behind the blanket approach offered by Big Pharma.   This is not an article about the evils of statins.  Statins reduce cholesterol effectively.  No question about it.  It is an article about questioning what is best for you and forumulating a plan.

The IDA specializes in the long term care of Ian Welch

The IDA specializes in the long term care of Ian Welch

I want control and I want results.  I will always choose the most effective tool in the chest and sometimes you don’t need a hammer to push in a tack.

On March, 2011, I had quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 40.  Post-op I was prescribed an aggressive dose of a statin; 40mg/day.  And as touted, it worked like a charm.  It knocked down my cholesterol immediately.  I honestly remember the statement by my cardiologist;you will be on a statin the rest of your life“.  He didn’t mean any harm but he wasn’t offering up any alternatives either.

This is not a new story.  I believe most patients are told about the lifetime contract.  Statins are the number one selling drug in the world.  in 2010, the FDA approved statins as a preventative measure and opened up the market for Big Pharma to millions of people without cholesterol problems.  I suspect the recent push by the AMA & others to define obesity as a disease is also a push to further the mass appeal of statins.

A new study from Mayo Clinic researchers reveals how many Americans are on prescription drugs.  The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, shows 7 out of 10 Americans take at least one prescription drug!  More than half of Americans take two prescription mediations, and 20 percent of Americans are on at least five prescription medications.

I was fortunate to have read and met Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in the very first days after my surgery.  This is a doctor advocating a low oil, plant-based diet to his patients.  Albeit not a large study, time has shown the advantages of this approach.  In fact, his patients eventually reverse the disease.  I don’t know of any drugs offering the results below:

Coronary angiograms of the distal left anterior descending artery before (left) and after (right) 32 months of a plant-based diet without cholesterol-lowering medication, showing profound improvement.

Coronary angiograms of the distal left anterior descending artery before (left) and after (right) 32 months of a plant-based diet without cholesterol-lowering medication, showing profound improvement.

Recently, I wrote a piece for the Stanford Scope. My dilemma has been straddling the fence between the medical and wellness industries. I have shed over 40 pounds from my top weight of 235. I eat less than 10 percent fat and thrive on a diet based solely on plant-based nutrition. I exercise 90 minutes a day, with Bikram Yoga during the week and long runs and swims on the weekends. However, my last cardiologist (I have yet to find a primary doctor) insisted I attack my disease with heavy doses of statins, fenofibrates and niacin, despite recent evidence of the ineffectiveness of that regime. I’m unable to find a doctor yet willing to meet me halfway, to acknowledge the ability of the body to reverse heart disease through nutrition.

Before & After... my wife is missing her hand rest now.

Before & After… my wife is missing her hand rest now.

So, I’ve stopped straddling the fence. I move forward as the CEO of my plan.

As CEO, I reviewed the numbers and have taken a scientific approach towards dropping the statin.  The reason the statin was prescribed was to keep my cholesterol down.  A plant-based, low oil diet also reduces cholesterol.

I had to weigh the pros and cons.  Plants offer no side effects, no liver toxicity, muscle loss or other consequences unknown to us yet.  However, for some, making the transition to plant-based can be quite an effort; a pill is agreeably easier and highly effective.

Ian Welch: Cholesterol History Since Bypass Surgery

Ian Welch: Cholesterol History Since Bypass Surgery

The next two blood tests will determine whether the diet can keep my cholesterol levels down without the statin.  Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.  There are some genes working against me but as Dr. T. Colin Campbell of the China Study always states: “genes are expressed by nutrition“.  If the numbers start moving up then I will tweak my plan.  Perhaps sticking with the low dose statin and moving even more aggressively on avoiding oils in my diet.  Then test it again.

The point is I am in control.  I know my numbers and I am taking responsibility for my disease.

Finally, I offer this to the naysayers.  Time will tell whether I am doing the right thing.  We will all exit this world at some point; do you want to go down fighting or simply fade away?  I am making decisions I can live with based on the tools I have available to me.  I do not want to take a drug the rest of my life because it was prescribed to me arbitrarily.  I do not want a lifetime of side effects… Lowering my cholesterol to forsake my liver.  I want customized solutions.  And if someday down the road I am proven wrong; I am fine with that.  I did the best I could.

I just hope Big Pharma survives without me.

The Standard American Pill Plan

The Standard American Pill Plan