I am a healthy, active female, 61, normal weight, good BP, on a heart-healthy diet, disease-free and take no prescription meds. My problem is that my cholesterol (specifically LDL) has gradually increased from "good" to "high" over the past 6 years at the onset of menopause and a total hysterectomy (fibroids).
Recent blood tests show my triglycerides (98) and HDL (56) are mid-normal range, but LDL is high @189 and CHOLl/HDL ratio is high @4.7. Increased levels of LDL over time is the culprit, so during consultation with my doctor last week, I expected her to prescribe a low-dose generic statin to reduce LDL.
Instead, she recommended that I take Lovaza and wrote a prescription for 4 caps daily for 6 months. I didn't know what Lovaza was until I got home and visited the Lovaza website indicating the product is designed to lower "very high triglycerides" and may increase LDL. My triglycerides are already normal and I need to lower my LDL, so why would my doctor prescribe Lovaza?
I already take 1800mg of EPA/DHA Omega-3 supplements daily, which is 1/2 of the prescribed Lovaza dose. I can double my OTC dose to equal the Lovaza prescription dose and save $150 month, since I don't have health insurance. However, my main concern is whether or not my doctor is right in prescribing Lovaza (or whether I should increase intake of equivalent OTC fish oil supplements for the purpose of lowering my LDL).
I don't have high triglycerides, so why take Lovaza unless its purpose it to reduce LDL?
I would appreciate any insights/advice on this matter. Thank you!
That's a very good question. You should ask her what the deal is. I'm curious to know.
I'm a cynic by nature, more so as I get older. When I first saw the TV spot for Lovaza, I wondered why the consumer would have a need for prescription fish oil since the OTC stuff has been proven safe and effective for most people. The ad doesn't make any claims about why prescription fish oil works better. By the end of the 60-second spot, it came to me... Money, of course. Big Pharma has seized the opportunity to make mega-millions off an already fairly low cost and effective DIY treatment. As long as they didn't muck up the formula too much, there shouldn't be many down-the-road pesky liability lawsuits to deal with. And as with any new designer medicine, MDs stand to collect a good share of the profit from prescribing it to as many patients as possible. Not that I know your MD is one of those, but the question has to be raised.
If it were me, I'd go with a statin. But first, I'd make sure my thyroid function is up to par. Hypothyroidism is the second leading cause of elevated LDL following poor diet. And the risk of hypothyroidism increases greatly in post-menopausal women. It's such a known association that before thyroid-specific tests were developed, hypoT was diagnosed by measuring LDL. All of the blood fat-lowering drug labels state that thyroid function should be tested before prescribing the drugs.
Thanks for your response. My thyroid tests are normal. I agree with your analysis of how and why Lovaza (and other designer drugs) are developed, approved, and marketed to make drug companies richer with ample support from their pushers.
I do plan to ask my Dr. why she prescribed Lovaza for high LDL. I fear the only truthful answers I won't hear from her are that she is uninformed, misinformed, or otherwise motivated to prescribe the "drug" regardless of her knowing that it is designed to lower very high triglycerides (mine are normal), and may increase my HDL, mine is too high and the main goal is to get it down.
I'm not sure where you're standing at this point, but you mentioned that you are already on fish oil. DHA, one of the primary fatty acids in fish oil, can raise LDL. As opposed to taking more fish oil, you may want to stop taking it all together and see how it affects your cholesterol levels. However, fish oil does have cardiovascular benefits, so you may want to try taking one that primarily has the other prominent fatty acid found in fish oil called EPA, and very little DHA. There are products on the market with about 90% EPA. You can probably find some by googling "high EPA fish oil."
To me it shows that the doctors are SO uninformed about what they are prescribing. All they are interested in is getting you on as many drugs as they can, regardless of what they do to you or your health.