Statin Drugs and Cholesterol

Statin Statistics: Approximately 1 in every 4 adult Americans over the age of 45 is currently using statin drugs to “prevent heart disease.” Reference: https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/consumer-alert-300-health-problems-linked-statin-drugs  I once had a young man (age 12) who came to me that was on statin drugs. Do these companies really know how children will react to these drugs? This boy was eating fast food and cafeteria food more than ten times each week!

What are Statin drugs and how do they work? Statins are a class of drugs that lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver by blocking a specific enzyme that helps make cholesterol. (The other source of cholesterol in the blood is dietary cholesterol.) This enzyme is called hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase).

statin drugs

The most commonly prescribed statin drug- Lipitor.

Names and types of statin drugs include:

  • Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release)
  • Calan (Verapamil)
  • Covera-HS) (Verapamil)
  • Crestor (Rosuvastatin)—most potent
  • Isoptin (Verapamil)
  • Isoptin SR (Verapamil)
  • Lescol (Fluvastatin)—least potent
  • Lipitor (Atorvastatin)—most potent
  • Livalo (Pitavastatin)
  • Lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • Pravachol (Pravastatin)
  • Simcor (Simvastatin/Niacin extended-release)
  • Verelan (Verapamil)
  • Verelan PM (Verapamil)
  • Vytorin (Simvastatin/ezetimibe)
  • Zocor (Simvastatin)

Note: Baycol (Cerivastatin) was withdrawn worldwide because it caused rhabdomyolysis 10-100x more than other statin drugs.

People often ask if the following drugs are statins. They are not:

  • Bistolic (Nebivolol) belongs to a group of drugs called beta-blockers which affect the heart and circulation. Bystolic is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Plavix (Clopidogrel) Plavix is a blood thinner used to treat people who have recently had a heart attack, stroke, or disease of the arteries
  • Questran (Cholestyramine) helps reduce cholesterol (fatty acids) in the blood especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (“bad” cholesterol) and to treat itching caused by a blockage in the bile ducts of the gallbladder. Read more: https://www.pdrhealth.com/drugs/questran
  • Tricor (fenofibrate) is not a statin drug. Tricor is in a drug class called anti-lipemic medications and is used with diet and other medications to lessen the amount of lipids (fatty substances such as cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood. Tricor also increase the amount of good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Zetia is a cholesterol-lowering medicine that works in the small intestines to block the absorption of cholesterol. Zetia, along with a low-fat diet, is used to reduce cholesterol levels either alone or in combination with other medicines, such as statins or fenofibrates.

What are the dangers, side effects and intolerance of statin drugs? These were gleaned off the internet. Supposedly over 300 symptoms have now been associated or linked to taking statin drugs. Here’s the short list:

  • Abnormal liver tests
  • Acidosis
  • ALS
  • Amnesia
  • Anemia
  • Angina (Statins use up CoQ-10 which helps to oxygenate the heart)
  • Blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Death
  • Demyelination
  • Diabetes Type II
  • Diabetes Mellitus in post-menopausal women: https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?article=330
  • Diarrhea
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Fibromyalgia (from lack of CoQ-10 as a result of taking statins)
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent fevers
  • Genetic mutations
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Increased fasting serum glucose levels
  • Increased HbA1c
  • Increased salivation
  • Insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns: https://www.pharmalot.com/2007/11/mercks-zocor-may-keep-you-up-at-night/
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Loss of muscle cells
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Memory impairment or memory loss
  • Mitochondrial damage
  • Muscle enzyme challenges
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Myopathy or Rhabdomyolysis (inflammation of the muscles)
  • Nausea
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Rash and skin disorders
  • Retinal Ganglia cell damage
  • Thyroid disease
  • Unexplained joint or muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Note: Do NOT use these drugs during pregnancy- serious adverse effects on the developing fetus may occur. By binding and preventing cholesterol from forming fat soluble vitamins could become less-than-available to the fetus. Also, the brain is made from cholesterol.

Drugs/food interacting with statin drugs includes:

  • Boceprevir (Victrelis)
  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • Cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor,Tiazac)
  • Erythromycin (E-Mycin)
  • Grapefruit juice (greater than one quart/day)
  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Protease inhibitors (Indinavir, Crixivan, Ritonavir, Norvir all used in treating AIDS)
  • Telaprevir (Incivek)
  • Telithromycin (Ketek)
  • Verapamli (Calan, Verelan, Verelan PM, Isoptin, Isoptin SR, Covera-HS)
  • Voriconazole (Vfend)

Statins and CoQ-10: Some physicians recommend that people taking statins such as Lipitor, Pravachol or Zocor take Coenzyme Q10. These cholesterol-lowering drugs deplete the body of this crucial vitamin-like substance, and supplementing CoQ-10 may help protect the muscles from damage. Unfortunately, CoQ-10 does not work for everyone.

Can taking Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplements increase your cholesterol? There may be people who react negatively to glucosamine. If you are on a glucosamine supplement and have had a recent increase in your cholesterol you may want to stop taking it and have your cholesterol levels retested after a couple of months. (Is it the glucosamine or the fillers in the cheaper and poorer quality brands that people are reacting to? I’ve noticed that not all glucosamine supplements are the same and hardly anyone tests strong on chondroitin for some reason.) Reference: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/07/06/glucosamine-and/

Studies involving statin drugs: Dr. Beatrice Golomb’s statin study (read about the association between taking statins and having ALS symptoms here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19591530 )

FDA statin drug warning: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm293330.htm

Alternative, natural remedies and foods to use in place of statin drugs:

Warning: There are many alternative treatments for lowering cholesterol. But before you add any supplements or alternative therapies to your diet, talk to your health care provider—but it’s kind of hard to overdose on good food. Some supplements may interact with other medication you may be taking or have dangerous side effects.

Supplements and Foods that may Lower Cholesterol

Some herbal and nutritional supplement alternatives to statin drugs that may lower cholesterol include:

Other natural treatments for decreasing cholesterol include losing that excess weight, managing stress and exercising more.

Helpful Links and References for Statin Drugs: