Coping: With the Personal Statin Experiment

Like all “modern” doctors, mine had been  after me for several years to get on the “statin bandwagon.”  In a medical way, he was right:  My HDL was running low 40s while my LDLs were up in the 260 area.

Still, I had trepidations about it: I’d read extensively on both sides of the studies (for and against) but had decided that I’d go along with the doc’s recommendation since he is in the business of prolonging my ability to pay for visits (as is the whole medical industry) .  Second factor:  Though a few years younger than me, had gone on statins himself.

The results?


The prescription was for the generic atorvastatin, 40 mg. Aggressive but he wanted some results…and I get that.

I began with the one pill per day as recommended.  First day on was April 21st.

The first day, I didn’t feel too much change.  Touch of asthma, or was that imagined?

Day two I felt a bit “off” but didn’t get too worked up about it.

Day three, subtle changes in appetite began.  A steak for dinner that night only got two or three bites out of it.  It just somehow didn’t taste “right.”

For the next week, my tastes changed – dramatically.  In this period, I lost all taste for red meat, with only pork, chicken, and seafood (like shrimp) tasting any good.

After that?

A week, then two, then three went by and the sense of nausea grew a bit day by day.

I made notes on what was happening, so as to be able to review it with the doctor when time came.  I’d been scheduled for a four-month blood draw from starting.

Finally, after noticing a large number of miserable, persistent symptoms I could only associate with the statin, Sunday spelled the end of my statin experiment.

My gums had started to bleed when I brushed my teeth.  Never had that one before.  Not only did they bleed, but when I did a 3% peroxide rinse, the foam came out medium pink.

That was it.  The last straw for me.

Monday, I decided to write down the list of symptoms I had experienced and here’s what I’d gone through:

  • Bleeding gums ( 3 1/2 weeks in)
  • Evolving longer periods of nausea, peaking 2-6 hours after ingestion of the statin
  • Large change in taste – can’t stomach red meat now
  • 5 pounds of weight gain
  • Body aches, muscle spasms, dull headache
  • Sense of “missing mental acuity” [note 1]
  • Increase in dry eye symptoms. [critical because I wear rigid gas permeable contacts.]
  • Bottoms of feet became very sore (painful to walk)
  • Eczema became worse
  • BP remained in the 130/80 range with pulse 70-80 when working

I suppose you’re wondering “Gee, why’d he go through all THAT?

When I read a lot of the literature on statins, it was made clear that “patient adherence” was a major factor.  As I read deeply the number of people reporting symptoms seemed to be up in the 30% – 35% range.  Not the 1-2% some health practitioners claim.

One good article I read beforehand was on the Weston Price Foundation site here.

Another, more recent (2015 update) Price Foundation article here is of interest, too.

Although I had read a lot more,  including several books on inflammation as a cause of heart disease versus “cholesterol,” I was determined to follow my doctor’s advice, unless it became unquestionable that it was not efficacious.

Then came this weekend’s “bleeding gums” event.

That’s when statins and I parted company.

I’m sharing this with you NOT AS MEDICAL ADVICE, but as a sincere effort to encourage you, as I did, to document, document, document whenever you change anything major in your diet and medication routines.

Science with Holes in It

While there is some real promise in treating high LDL cholesterol (example article here), I have been deeply disappointed by the lack of correlation betweencholesterol and circulatory health based on genetics.

Which means?

My family DNA is from cold northern European countries a few generations back.  Places like Denmark and Scotland, to be precise.  And I’ve always wondered if there isn’t a link between specific genome groups (haplotypes, I’m T6) and what “normal” is…  You know Norwegians have different blood sugar levels because of the cold, right?

A read of Effects of atorvastatin on CYP3A4 and CYP3A5 mRNA expression in mononuclear cells and CYP3A activity in hypercholeresterolemic patients, gets us closer to the line of inquiry.

But try, though I did, I was not able to find specifics of which national origins had what specific genetic predispositions to statin treatments (or reactions).  Logically, it should vary, but how?

To be sure, there is some statistical evidence to be found in around the possibility that statins may extend the survival rates of certain personals with endocrine cancers.  In addition, see Atorvastatin, a double weapon in osteoporosis treatment: an experimental and clinical study.

All of which encouraged my continued solid attempt.

But now from painful personal experience, I can tell at least one statin is not for me.  It wasn’t just the muscle spasms, either, although do read Practical aspects in the management of statin-associated muscle symptoms (SAMS).  Then talk to your doc.

Did I screw up my chances by also dosing with Vitamin D and Co-Q-10 (to flight depletion)? I thought it might help. See Statin Use and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Blood Level Response to Vitamin D Treatment of Older Adults.

Perhaps in our rush to “get something good to market” the statin promoters missed a few important facts.  Take this genetics angle.

I remember (Danish) friends of the family who lived in Portland.  He (Carl) has been a sailor on the last of the Tall ships – huge steel square riggers.  And he’d been shipwrecked a couple of times.  Man was slight, perhaps 145, but tough as nails…

Even in his late 80’s, he was fit as a fiddle working in the garden, smoking two packs of Viceroys a day and drinking more than a cup of Canadian Club with an occasional splash of ‘7 in it; ice optional.

He explained to me that being shipwrecked was the best and worst time of his life.  The hunger – well, it’s awful.  But on the back side of it, seems to teach the body a LOT about how to survive.

Are statins little more than a way to deliberately interfere with the body’s natural uptake of nutrients by interfering with the vitamin D and Co-Q-10 processes from which comes cholesterol?  Can’t say.

Might the “hinted at” “new studies” showing mid-life benefit “persisting a lifetime” from midlife use of statins has missed the benefits of a period of hunger?

I read deeply when I was living on my sailboat about minimal diets and today the relationship between food uptake and survival is clarifying:  A Gizmodo article this year explains how “How Living Near the Starvation Point Can Extend Lifespan.”  Not sure this is good news, or bad.  One thing for sure, though, a period of starvation is harder to monetize than a pill.

You’ll find plenty of articles coming out explaining How the Ketogenic Diet Weakens Cancer Cells and a lot more.  Ketogenic diets reduce or remove sugar intake which, in turn, seems to have something to “teach” the body health.

But before you start skipping meals, though, remember that in the ketogenic state you can flip into acidosis and then…well, then you need to be around real medicine.

Still, the article “Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients” has me leaning in that direction now.  Time to study up on natural appetite suppressants.

I guess my personal bottom line was nicely summarized in the February paper this year ” Intensive LDL-cholesterol lowering therapy and neurocognitive function. ” which says in its abstract, in part:

Prospective controlled studies comparing the short- and long-term effects of different statins on cognitive function are warranted. The effects of intensive LDL-C lowering on neurocognition might be attributed to an off-target effect. It is also possible that pre-existing pathology and vascular risk may already be present outweighing any effect related to lipids. Gender, genetic, LDL-C-related genotypes and aging-related changes should also be considered. Some data indicate that carriers of apolipoprotein E (apoE) ?-4 allele, with low levels of apoA1 and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol have a distinct plasma lipid profile and may be more susceptible to neurocognitive dysfunction. Future research on lipid-lowering drugs and cognition is needed; careful study design and analysis will be critical.”

Amen, brothers, get back to me when it’s complete.

I’m  still open to medication that will improve my long-term survival rate (which is still finite, at least until I can be downloaded into a video game, lol….wait,  are we on one already?).

But until then, any benefit from statin use (for me) would likely be offset by the bleeding gums, pain walking on my feet, and wanting to puke all the time.

By Sunday, starvation was sounding pretty good.

Got the new studies done, yet?  I’ll try a good T-bone again…if the appetite for red meat comes back and I’m back to eating again.

Write when you get rich,

41 thoughts on “Coping: With the Personal Statin Experiment”

  1. “Perhaps in our rush to “get something good to market” the statin promoters missed a few important facts. Take this genetics angle.”

    Well, there’s your problem Vern. They aren’t trying to get “something good” to market. They are looking for another revenue stream, regardless of what it does to individual patients! I’m 73, I don’t take any drugs, I use some CBD products and occasional aspirin.

    I think you are on to something with the genetics. My adoptive mom’s family was native American on her mother’s side. They all had terrible cholesterol #’s and all died in their 60-70’s from heart trouble, even though they weren’t overweight and ate a “good” diet. My dad’s family, Irish, were all overweight, ate a horrible diet and lived well into their 80’s with little in the way of health problems.

    My son has noticed in his CBD business that the few people who don’t seem to respond to CBD’s are Eskimo! He figures that they didn’t develop the receptors for CBD because it was not part of their culture. Same might apply in cholesterol – they are a culture who lives on fat.

    Anyway, just a thought.

  2. I am currently on the keto diet. My triglycerides went from 260 to 76 inside of 3 months – eating bacon, burgers, salad and avocados, chicken and cauliflower, etc… Alos, a good intake of Niacin helps your body use that extra cholesterol… Both my HDL & LDL went up slightly, but my HDL went up more, and this made my ration a LOT better. I can’t preach enough about the keto lifestyle.

  3. George,

    Today’s musing bring to mind the Hippocratic Oath and the common mistake that it’s opening phrase is “First, do no harm.” Not true and never has been. In the original oath [it has been re-written several times since the old man himself penned it in the late 5th century B.c.] the entire first paragraph swears obesicence to the Greek Gods. Then it goes on the establish that time-honored concept of brotherhood: that all Physicians will stick together, no matter what! They become members of a greater family who will teach each other [and their children] free of charge[!] – and will not divulge their secrets to anyone outside that closed circle unless they too take the oath.

    Only in the third stanza are patients first mentioned – but even then the good Doctors are still covering themselves by refusing to commit any “illegal” acts, including the administration of poisons and compounds that will cause abortion. The “do no harm” idea enters the picture in the fourth paragraph along with the promise of Physician/patient confidentiality.

    Finally, they swear that if they break this oath they accept the same fate as their patients. If ONLY!!!

    Explains quite a bit about the medical profession, doesn’t it?? And, it appears today that most Doctors play fast-and-loose with the entire oath – especially the part about not prescribing “poisons”… else how do you explain all those disclaimers and dire warnings of possible side-effets that all meds seem to carry in volume?

    As I said, that venerable oath has been modified several times throughout history to help keep Physicians -and any botched procedures- above reproach, to the point that -in 1989- there were SEVEN differnt oaths being used in medical schools while a few didn’t bother at all. More recently, there are even schools that allow oaths written by the faculty or students themselves. YEAH! I REALLY want those sawbones treating me! BTW: Osteopaths are so special they have their own oath all to themselves…

    My point in all of this is something I have long maintained: far too many people place
    an unrealistic amount of blind faith in their Physicians, completely ignoring that not everybody graduates at the top of their class. Another pitfall is believing that Doctors have some inner altrustic reason for practicing their “art” [notice it’s never been called a “craft”, since like hairdressing it has lots of built-in wiggle-room] – medicine long ago surrendered to greed, a new Jaguar and a million-dollar home. And when you factor in the obscene collusion between avaricious practitioners and the insurance industry you arrive at a very unholy alliance, indeed!

    Now, I’m lucky [or does it just boil down to common-sense?] as -even at 64- I rarely become more than mildly ill; bedrest and a gentle diet take care of 90% of my ailments with the balance of age-related aches/pains banished with an occasional Ibuprophen.

    You see… even though I don’t practice medicine -or play one on T.V. hyping the latest drug- I DO stubbornly adhere to the concept of ‘…first, do no harm.’ ESPECIALLY when it comes to myself.

    • I am my own physician and I totally reject the “truism” that one has a fool for a patient. I ain’t no fool, and I understand that nobody will care more for my life, health and happiness than me.

      That said, I have studied medicine and left medical school when I realized that “the emperor has no clothes”. Most physicians won’t listen to the customer(I don’t use the term “patient”). I have no physician and won’t suffer one. If I go to a physician to get a script, I’ll tell him/herit what I want and expect to get it, just like buying socks at Walmart. If they can’t do that for any reason, they’re of no use at all. Information is available in depth on the net, and any reasonably smart person can do several hours of research and do far better than an MD with only five minutes to spend on a customer.

      The odds are that I’ll die. So what? Everyone does. I intend to live my life and not worry about its length. The strangest thing is that I seem to have better health this way and certainly much more money.

      • AMEN, Brother!!!

        In light of how Hippocrates’ original guarantee is now interpreted [not that it contained much virtue in the first place!] perhaps it should be renamed, “The Hypocritical Oath.”

        Interestingly, further research reveals that the inclusion of a ban on abortion [and contraceptives] did not carry the weight of ethical morality it does today: male infants were sorely needed to support the voracious ancient Greek war-machine and females to bear future generations. It was -in the end- purely economics!

  4. I had most of the symptoms you list but add severe constipation and nightmares. The nightmare thing was corroborated by a neighbor that experienced the same.

  5. A long time ago I’d read that consuming 2 apples a day was equally as effective as the anti-cholesterol meds of the day. Statins may not have been around then.
    On another note, maybe the book “Eat right for your blood type” was really trying to document genotypes.
    On a third note, now science has found that the markers for heart disease for females is not cholesterol, but something that begins with “H”, like homocysteine maybe? It seems like articles have been appearing noting that cholesterol isnt the bogeyman it had made out to be. Which explains those villages in Italy whose healthy inhabitants have their values in the eight hundreds.

  6. George, we are roughly the same age and on same path. Keto in combination with a paleo approach for a Northern European ancestry is imo the way to go. If you must take statins (I won’t) supplement with selenium.. I have made my own colloidal silver for almost 20 years and swear by it. Medical community has finally recognized no link between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Next hallowed mantra to fall will be no link between blood cholesterol and heart issues unless you already have artery disease. Functional Medicine will prove the issue is sugars and carbs out of control in the american diet generating auto immune responses….. all JMHO! I am 67 with no prescriptions but about $70 per month in supplements….. which are deductible if you get your Dr to prescribe.

  7. George you might look at FAT FOR FUEL. The book doesnt come out until today and mine will be delivered Thur. I took what his pre publishing ads offered and in 2 weeks can now see my belt buckle. Eliminate carbs for energy and use MCT oil very carefully or it can be potty city. Energy level is high on 1/2 tsp about every 6 hours. Think am building up a tolerance for it though. Have eliminated the late nite sugar binges so am now sleeping well. Guess as usual will have to send check for Peoplenomics as after 3 tries working on getting online subscription saying fug it. Oh well same ever year. Have a good one and keep on keeping on.

  8. Due to higher cholesterol levels than you George, my doc has wanted me to get on statins. Me – absolutely no way am I taking ANYTHING like that. Interestingly enough, Naturopathic doc found that my thyroid was misbehaving so I started taking thyroid meds. Been on them for about a year and my cholesterol has improved substantially….LDL numbers dropped by almost 100 during that time. Nothing else had changed – diet, health, supplements, etc….just getting my thyroid healthier.

  9. My experience with blood lipids. My doctor said statin and I said never. My ancestors are Danish and Swedish. I am 71, obese and don’t eat well. I cut way back on red meat and focus on poultry and fish (feel best on fish). My lipids went changed to the good range so no more talk of statins.

  10. Keto works for me, but after perhaps 6 months I become crampy and acidic. Maybe some bicarbonate would help? But currently I do the McDougall protocol, which is the opposite of keto, using mainly starch for calories. Ironically, Atkins himself said that the problem wasn’t fat, but rather fat with carbs. What he didn’t discuss was carbs other than fructose with very little fat.

    My doc likes the numbers I have gotten since October in blood work. 38 lbs. lighter and never hungry.

    I have plateaued tho and now need to cut back on adult beverages and sugars, plus do more exercise, for the last 20 pounds to come off.

    Apart from being cheap, the starch is very filling. Imagine eating 6 big potatoes. That is only 600 calories. But I couldn’t eat that much in one sitting.
    My genome is mainly northwestern Europe with about 2% Native American and Iberian peninsula. A positive. So maybe I’m designed for grains and starches per eat right for your blood type theory? Funny that I was a notorious carnivore before.

  11. gu,getb a rosuvastatin” crestor”gerneric”. i was on lipator for 10/15 years no problems.changed to crestor because of price 7/8 years problems.would not hurt to try…..

    • A number of years ago I had a friend that nearly died from liver failure as his doctor switched him from Lipitor to a different Statin that was cheaper.
      This stuff is dangerous, but on the positive side, the sooner we die the quicker we do our “duty” to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!

  12. Ketogenic diet for me. 20g total carbs per day. Cholesterol went up initially then went back down. Triglycerides are excellent. High fat, moderate protein diet. Healthier than I’ve ever been. Statins kill people. I’m trying to get my husband off of them now.

  13. George,Do not have a dog in this hunt and rarely comment on what an 88 year old who takes NO prescription drugs,reads w/o glasses,and has his own teeth reads and knows full well that unasked for advice is stupid however will make two comments; 1.he who doctors himself has a fool for a doctor.2 you are fortunate to live within driving distance of what experience has taught me is one of the best doctors in the world.Dr.John Sessions d.o. ay the jasper county medical center in Jasper tx is the secret to my health ,he has forgotten more than most m.d.s know.You would do yourself a great favor if you had a visit with him and paid attention to what he has to say.Un fortunately for me he is nearly 400 miles each way to see him and buying a plne rental is out of my budget otherwise you may be sure i would be there once a month.He has done miraculous things for me over the last 17 years.It is worth what it cost you.Just Sayin’—the old man in the hills

  14. Your doctor is only doing what he was trained to do-push drugs. For the last 30-40 years our doctors have been studying with the best text books, lab studies and ‘knowledge’ money could buy, courtesy of the drug companies who wrote the books, and commissioned the studies. They learned what they wanted them to learn, only modern chemicals were required for health.
    When my doctor wanted me to go on statins, I stopped going to her. Even though she saved my life and insisted I get checked out for Cancer. Yup, Hodgkins Lymphoma. Went through chemo, cancer gone. Would I do it again? Absolutely NOT. Chemo , if it eliminates your cancer, most assuredly will kill you 10-20 years down the road with another cancer, if administered correctly. I have so many other things wrong with me now, but I am alive, so it was a reasonable risk I do not blame anyone for. Always research. Do you know cancer doctors are allowed to be chemical wholesalers? How else do you think they make their money? There are plenty of proven natural options out there.
    BTW, aren’t they saying Cholesterol is now good for us?

    • Yes, and other things that are now good for us: red meat, eggs, whole milk, butter! Bad for us and KNOWN for 50 years to cause cancer, SUGAR!!!

  15. Physician Assistant let it slip that that Medicare doesn’t want doctors to prescribe statins to patients 75 yrs. and older.

    I’m 79 and take only 1 medicine but no vitamins or supplements. Incredibly healthy but have a life threatening allergy to corn which is a really nasty because corn is in medicines, cosmetics and in 80% of the food going under numerous names.

    • Medicare also doesn’t want to do the PSA test after 75 either; don’t fall for it, ASK and get your annual PSA test!

    • See a NAET practitioner. Google this. That corn allergy can be eliminated forever. It is a noninvasive technique. My wife is a practitioner and has changed the lives of hundreds of people in the last 15 years. Your doctor will tell you this is not possible. For him, it isn’t.

      Consider this. A majority of chronically depressed people have an allergy to B vitamins. No matter what they eat, or what supplements they take, they are chronically deficient. With a deficiency of B vitamins, the brain simply will not function correctly.

    • Anon- This is something I missed and looks very interesting. Supposedly it works to ‘clean up’ non-living tissues. As someone who had a splenectomy 65 years ago my blood seems clogged with dead blood cells and assorted other junk. If this works as described it would be great and it beats phlebotomy!

  16. Did you have your A1c taken also? Its very common for statins to cause recipients to become diabetic.

  17. George————-Correction——— the Jasper county Mrdical Center is in Kirbyville Tx. not jasper.Respectfully the old man in the hills

  18. Hi George,

    You might also be interested in reading Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s series on “What Causes Heart Disease.” He began in early 2016, and is now on part 29 of his delve into the research into what causes (and does NOT cause) heart disease.

    I’ve been searching for answers on the topic for years, and, along with the Weston A. Price Foundation, which you’ve already discovered, I find Dr. Kendrick’s work to be the most logical and promising. You also might enjoy his book “Doctoring Data,” which was quite the eye opener for me.

  19. Love hearing these medical stories ——
    About Practical Medicine—-surpassing the drug companies monetary ambitions

    AGAIN thanks
    MAY ALL beings be lovingly fulfilled —so be it

  20. George I’m surprised you hung in there THAT long with all those “side effects”. My doc put me on statins back in 2008 and after just ONE dose my body told me it’s poison and a big no-no to longevity.
    It amazes me that people go along with this horsecrap. And yes I argue with my current doc all the time, but then he’s a former rodeo bull rider, so he can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’!

      • LOL! I read your posts nearly every day, and the comments section. Jon is quite annoying, but sometimes even annoying people can contribute a kernel of usefulness; Usually without even knowing they have done so.

      • I love responding to him and the Obamaites, too.

        The problem is we have entered the age of “Electronic Mob Rules” as we discussed recently in PN. Problem is that electronic sedition and insurrection is still punishable, I believe. Hope Sessions finds some test cases and that Trump asks all Obama appointees to resign or be fired.

        Can we move on with it?

  21. See a naturopathic DR. and get replacement hormonal shots every 12 to 14 days and your worries will be over! I’m 74 and still lifting weights in the gym and no one comes close to guessing my age.

  22. G, Have you had your Thyroid checked?
    I think I read about the link with Thyroid and Cholesterol.
    Don’t just get TSH, you also need T4 and T3 and antibodies done. (TPO and Anti-Tg)
    Thyroid controls metabolism too. (weight)

  23. Hi George–
    1) Rule out possible lab errors. As we age, metabolism is prolonged for some things, including cholesterol. The cholesterol lab results are not valid unless you get a fasting blood sample. Traditionally this means ‘no food after midnight the night before,’ but if you fast for 18 to 24 hours before your blood draw, the numbers improve dramatically. So first, get a valid fasting blood draw.

    2) If you or other readers must use a statin, supplement with Ubiquinol type of Co-Q10(better absorbed than ubiquinone).

    3) Fasting recommended, but work into it slowly. I started with skipping lunch 1, 2, then 3 days a week, then skipping dinner too on 1, 2, then 3 days a week. Worked into it over about 4 months. It gets easier and you lose some weight, but in 6 months it straightened out my cholesterol and triglycerides, to the point at which I was taken off Atorvastatin and Fenofibrate.
    Also, I noticed that my taste in food changed. I lost my taste for sweet stuff and mostly was craving meats and vegetables.

  24. That was very un-american of you to go off that medication. You should have run back to your doctor and gotten a couple more prescriptions to deal with those side effects. After all your Medicare is paying for this, isn’t it?

    When we used to take my mother to the heart specialist, patients were required to bring all their current prescription bottles in with them. Patients used to compare medications, but nobody could beat the guy with 17 prescriptions.

  25. From my DIY Medicine and Reverse Engineering Philosophy and by linking/searching Mercury, Selenium, Mercury Detox, Magnesium Depletion Glyphosate, etc. I have linked almost all medical conditions (including cancers) for which patented pharma treatment is mandated by allopathic medicine (never touching prevention or diagnosing or searching for multiple causes ). This seems to be turning us humans into a planned obsolescence business model of patch up till slow disablement, bankruptcy and death. How it works: as you age mercury detox depletes Magnesium etc. Follow the money
    I have reversed ( from my personal lab rat records, medical records-e chart, prescription records ) 16 years of Resistant Hypertension be reducing my 75 years of mercury accumulation and detox by removing 2 mercury amalgams and detoxing reducing my blood pressure from 150-190/80-120 to 108-130/42-80 since Nov 2016 ( this is without ANY pharma meds)

  26. I was taking atorvastatin at 40mg after my heart attack in October 2015. When I first began taking it I did not notice any bad side effects but eventually after one year had passed and I started using a treadmill to exercise I noticed that my right leg was sore, even when I had not used the treadmill for a few days. I then started cutting my 40mg pills in half and did that for about a month along with taking Krill Oil. The last time I had my cholesterol checked in April 2017 my LDL was good and my HDL was better than it was in January 2017. The doctor lowered my dosage to 20mg and I immediately began splitting those pills in half for about a month when I stopped taking them. The soreness in my right leg completely went away along with the almost constant itching that I used to experience. I will never take another statin drug again as long as I live. I am now trying Slo-Niacin to see if that will help to raise my HDL levels that my my ratio will improve even more.

    I am also slowly weaning myself off of the blood thinner Plavix as well. My next goal is to get my blood pressure lowered enough so that I can stop taking my Carvedilol altogether. I have already been able to reduce my dose from 6.25mg to 3.125mg with exercise and magnesium and potassium supplements.

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