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Effect of Red Yeast Rice on Heart Attack
Red yeast rice contains naturally occurring substances similar (and, in some cases, identical) to cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs in the statin family. Statins lower cholesterol and...
Read more about Heart Attack and Red Yeast Rice.
Effect of Red Yeast Rice on Lipid Disorders
What Is Red Yeast Rice Used for Today?
Red yeast rice is thought to be effective for lowering cholesterol, presumably because of its statin constituents. There is evidence to support this use.
An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 83 people with high cholesterol evaluated red yeast rice. 1 At the end of the 8-week treatment period, levels of total cholesterol decreased significantly in the red yeast rice group as compared to the placebo group. Benefits were also seen in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides as well. No significant differences were noted in HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels from baseline or between groups. In an 8-week study of 79 people, use of red yeast rice was noted to improve the LDL/HDL ratio, along with several other measures of cardiac risk. 2 In a carefully conducted review of 93 randomized trials involving almost 10,000 patients, researchers concluded that red yeast rice can significantly lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, and raise levels of HDL compared with placebo. 3 A double-blind study performed in China compared an alcohol extract of red yeast rice (Xuezhikang) against placebo in almost 5,000 people with heart disease. 4 Over a 4-year study period, use of the supplement reportedly reduced heart attack rate by about 45% as compared to placebo, and total mortality by about 35%. However, these levels of reported benefit are so high as to raise questions about the study’s reliability. At least 3 other studies, all from this same original population of participants, have found similar results in diabetics with heart disease 5 and in patients with previous heart attack, 6 with surprisingly large reductions in the rates of coronary events (eg, heart attack) and mortality. These levels of reported benefit, however, are so high and so similar as to raise questions about their reliability.
Because red yeast rice is essentially a drug supplied by a natural product, and this drug has many potential side effects , we suggest that it should be used only under physician supervision.
- Heber D, Yip I, Ashley JM, Elashoff DA, Elashoff RM, Go VL. Cholesterol-lowering effects of a proprietary Chinese red-yeast-rice dietary supplement. Am J Clin Nutr. 69(2):231-6.
- Lin CC, Li TC, Lai MM. Efficacy and safety of Monascus purpureus Went rice in subjects with hyperlipidemia. Eur J Endocrinol. 153(5):679-86.
- Liu J, Zhang J, Shi Y, et al. Chinese red yeast rice ( Monascus purpureus ) for primary hyperlipidemia: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Chin Med. 2006;1:4.
- DU BM, Lu ZL, Chen Z, Wu YF. [The beneficial effects of lipid-lowering therapy with xuezhikang on cardiac events and total mortality in coronary heart disease patients with or without hypertension: a random, double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial] Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan Bing Za Zhi. 34(10):890-4.
- Zhao SP, Lu ZL, Du BM, Chen Z, Wu YF, Yu XH, Zhao YC, Liu L, Ye HJ, Wu ZH, China Coronary Secondary Prevention Study (CCSPS). Xuezhikang, an extract of cholestin, reduces cardiovascular events in type 2 diabetes patients with coronary heart disease: subgroup analysis of patients with type 2 diabetes from China coronary secondary prevention study (CCSPS). J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 49(2):81-4.
- Ye P, Lu ZL, Du BM, Chen Z, Wu YF, Yu XH, Zhao YC, CCSPS Investigators. Effect of xuezhikang on cardiovascular events and mortality in elderly patients with a history of myocardial infarction: a subgroup analysis of elderly subjects from the China Coronary Secondary Prevention Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 55(7):1015-22.