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Red yeast rice may be an alternative for high cholesterol

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A new study suggests that red yeast rice, which is sold over-the-counter as a dietary supplement at health food stores and pharmacies, may be an effective alternative to statins for those who have unwelcome side effects from the drugs.

"For some people, especially if they've had muscle aching, taking red yeast rice and making lifestyle changes can work as well as a statin," lead study author Dr David Becker, of Chestnut Hill Cardiology in Pennsylvania, told CNN.

The most common side effect of statins is severe muscle pain, and in about 20 percent of the cases it is sufficient to cause the patient to stop taking the drug.

Becker's study, which appeared this week in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that when combined with diet and lifestyle changes, red yeast rice can lower cholesterol by more than 20 percent in patients who had to abandon statins due to muscle pain, a result which is comparable with statin drugs.

Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate diet supplements, and the exact contents of red yeast rice that can be bought are likely to vary a great deal from brand to brand.

Cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, and the AHA recommends it be monitored consistently.ADNFCR-2248-ID-19226454-ADNFCR

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