Despite this fact, about 40 percent of patients who receive a prescription for statins usually take the drug for less than a year, due to various reasons such as adverse effects, poor understanding of statin benefits, or reluctance of patients to go on medications for long term.
According to a report in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a group of researchers from Pennsylvania, studied an alternative approach to treating high blood cholesterol, and found an effective alternative treatment option for patients who are unable to or unwilling to continue with statins.
The researchers studied 74 patients with high blood cholesterol, who were considered to have the required criteria to being statin therapy. These patients were randomly divided into either alternative treatment group or the statin group, and were studied for three months.
The alternative treatment group were given a daily dose of fish oil and red yeast rice supplements, and were put on a twelve-week multidisciplinary lifestyle program, involving a 3.5 hour meeting per week with the cardiologist, dietician, exercise physiologist and other alternative or relaxation practitioners.
Red yeast rice (a product of yeast grown on rice) is a dietary staple in few Asian countries, containing various compounds that inhibit cholesterol formation.
The statin group received 40mg of Zocor (simvastatin) per day, apart from printed materials about diet and exercise recommendations.
Towards the end of three months, participants of both the groups underwent blood cholesterol testing to determine the percentage of LDL cholesterol.
The researchers noticed a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels in both groups. While the alternative treatment group experienced a 42.4 percent reduction, the statin group reported 39.6 percent reduction.
The alternative group treatment patients also reported considerably lower levels of triglycerides, and significant weight loss.
According to the lead author of the study, David Becker, M.D.m Chestnut Hill Hospital and University of Pennsylvania Health System Cardiologist, these results indicate the potential benefit of alternative or naturopathic approach to a common medical condition.
However, Dr. Becker agrees that larger trials with longer follow-ups are required to determine the long-term compliance of the alternative therapy, as it was noticed during previous studies that most patients who were recommended lifestyle modifications were either unable or unwilling to keep up the routine.