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Patients concerned about the side effects of statin drugs (ie, kidney and muscle function) may find a fiber alternative beneficial. During the recent American Heart Association meeting, the researchers reported that individuals can add a fiber supplement to their diet and see the same effect as doubling the dose of statins. The results of the study also supported the recommendation that a healthy diet high in natural fiber is the best prevention against heart disease and cholesterol.
In the study involving 68 patients, the participants who had taken 10-mg doses of simvastatin had lowered their low-density lipoprotein (LDL; "bad") cholesterol levels by 29% at the end of the 2-month study. The patients who had taken the same amount of simvastatin plus 3 doses a day of Metamucil (Procter & Gamble) had lowered their LDL cholesterol by 36%, the same percentage as those who had taken 20-mg doses of simvastatin. Metamucil contains psyllium husk, which is high in cholesterol-lowering fiber, according to researcher Abel Moreyra, MD.