Nitric Oxide and High Cholesterol

There are differing opinions regarding the health risks of what is considered to be “high” cholesterol numbers.  There are also a variety of ways in which experts say the condition should be treated.  Cholesterol is a natural chemical that is produced by the liver.  Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones.  It is also necessary for our brains to function properly.  The flip side is that when your arteries become dysfunctional oxidized sticky cholesterol penetrates the inside of the artery and creates build up.

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Here are a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding cholesterol:

•    71 million American adults (33.5%) have high LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.
•    Only 1 out of every 3 adults with high LDL cholesterol has the condition under control.
•    Less than half of adults with high LDL cholesterol get treatment.
•    People with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk of heart disease as people with optimal levels. A desirable level is lower than 200 mg/dL.
•    The average total cholesterol level for adult Americans is about 200 mg/dL, which is borderline high risk.

Statins have become the drug of choice most doctors prescribe.  Statins are prescribed mainly to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. The statins include atorvastatin (sold as Lipitor), rosuvastatin (sold as Crestor), and simvastatin (sold as Zocor but also available as a generic).   Many Americans take statins. Half of men, ages to 65 to 74, and 39% of women, ages 75 and older—that’s pretty stunning.

Combine the 45+ age groups and both genders, and it comes out that one in four Americans, ages 45 and older, are taking a statin. There are roughly 127 million Americans over age 45. Presuming that there hasn’t been a big drop off in use since 2005-2008 (the latest period for the government health survey upon which these statistics are based) almost 32 million Americans take a statin. That’s the equivalent of the entire populations of Florida and Illinois combined.

According To WebMD, the most common statin side effects include:

•    Headache
•    Difficulty sleeping
•    Flushing of the skin
•    Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
•    Drowsiness
•    Dizziness
•    Nausea and/or vomiting
•    Abdominal cramping and/or pain
•    Bloating and/or gas
•    Diarrhea
•    Constipation
•    Rash

Statins also carry warnings that memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects. It’s important to remember that statins may also interact with other medications you take.

Can taking L-arginine and boosting Nitric Oxide make a difference in cholesterol?  Consider what co-author of the book ‘The Arginine Solution’, Dr. Woodson Merrell said, “We believe that a conservative dosage of 3 to 6 grams of oral arginine daily will help lower your cholesterol…  In some cases, taking oral arginine regularly may let you eventually lower the statin dose and perhaps go off it all together.”  Good news!

Research on Nitric Oxide and Cholesterol:

1.    Khedara A, Kawai Y Kayashita J Kato N. Feeding rats the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, L-N(omega) nitroarginine, elevates serum triglycerides and cholesterol and lowers hepatic fatty acid oxidation. J Nutr 1996 Oct;126(10):2563-7
2.    AJ Cayatte, JJ Palacino, K Horten and RA Cohen.  Chronic inhibition of nitric oxide production accelerates neointima formation and impairs endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.  Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1994, 14:753-759
3.    Hiroshi Shimizu, Takhiro Taniguchi, Yuichi Ishikawa, Mitsuhiro Yokoyama.  Effects of nitric oxide on cholesterol metabolism in macrophages.  Atherosclerosis: Volume 129, Issue 2, 21 March 1997, Pages 193–198
4.    Filomena de Nigris, Sharon Williams-Ignarro, Chiara Botti, Vincenzo Sica, Louis J. Ignarro, Claudio Napoli.  Pomegranate juice reduces oxidized low-density lipoprotein downregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase in human coronary endothelial cells.  Nitric Oxide: Volume 15, Issue 3, November 2006, Pages 259–263

“I am 62 years old. I have had elevated cholesterol issues since my 20′s. From my 20′s until 6 years ago my doctors had me taking statin drugs. After some 30 years of using these I did my research and decided it was time to come off of them. My cholesterol has never been under 200. Until after I started taking 10,000 mg of L-arginine daily, along with vitamin D, trace minerals and antioxidants back in October 2011. In February, 2012, I had my blood work done. When I got the results back I couldn’t believe it. I look at the paper and it said “Total Cholesterol: 180″. My doctor said, “Keep doing what your doing”. I smiled and replied that I would do just that!”
M. H.