After more than five years of readers' queries about statin drugs use, I have learned that very few people know of the full range of side effects of the statin class of drugs. Even many prescribing physicians are ignorant of the broad reach of the statins.
I suppose my first rude awakening of the prevalence of this lack of knowledge among physicians about the drugs they prescribe was during my own personal experience four years ago with transient global amnesia bouts after taking Lipitor. On both occasions they said, "Lipitor doesn't do that."
Dozens of pharmacists during that same time period said the same thing, "Statins don't do that." Now that the statin study has reported nearly five hundred cases of statin associated transient global amnesia, physicians are reluctantly accepting the reality of amnesia, confusion, disorientation, extreme forgetfulness and aggravation of pre-existing senility but many still do not know it exists.
You can imagine my concern when an FAA flight surgeon told me they had been allowing statin drug use in commercial airline pilots for several years because they "did not know statins could do that." The medical literature is now replete with reports of statin associated amnesias and other evidence of mental dysfunction and still many of our prescribing physicians remain unaware of statin's special cognitive impairment tendency. Readers will be interested to know of Muldoon's two reports in the medical literature documenting cognitive impairment in 100% of statin users if sufficiently sensitive testing is done. Also related to statin inhibition of cholesterol are the hundreds of reports of loss of libido and impotence.
These findings represent only the cholesterol inhibition effect of the statin class of drugs. What about the inevitable collateral damage to ubiquinones and dolichols from statin drug use? Those from ubiquinone (a.k.a. Co-enzyme Q10) inhibition give rise to liver inflammation, myopathy and its more serious form rhabdomyopathy with muscle ache, pain, sensitivity and soreness anywhere in the body. Hundreds of people have received expensive and worrisome cardiac workups when the muscles involved are in the chest.
Another complex of symptoms results from neuropathy with ringing in the ears, weakness of extremities, numbness, decreased ability to feel heat or cold and altered sensation anywhere in the body - numbness and tingling of the feet being a common early sign. Lack of sufficient CoQ10 dependant energy reserves results in tiredness, shortness of breath and easy fatigability and congestive heart failure with ankle edema, nocturia, shortness of breath with recumbency and the need for extra pillows for sleep.
These are only some of the more common side effects of CoQ10 lack. Physicians for the most part are well aware of hepatitis, myopathy and rhabdomyolysis but many still steadfastly refuse to admit neuropathy despite the convincing published works of Gaist of Norway and cardiologists and internists still deny the reality of congestive heart failure despite the widely published and equally convincing research of the Doctors Langsjoen of Texas.
The symptoms we associate with statin induced dolichol inhibition are a broad range of affective disorders, reflecting alteration of neuropeptides, known as brain cell messengers. Very few physicians and almost no patients are aware of the many case reports of statin associated hostility, aggression, road-rage type behavior, accident proneness and depression of varying degrees with its inevitable suicidal ideation, attempts and occasional successes.
So when a physician asks if you are having any problems with your statin, they must be specific for someone is very unlikely to report such symptoms as tiredness and depression when their "cholesterol is doing so well." As for memory, Muldoon's 100% is something to think about?
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor