Doctors and Statins

Hundreds of reports have documented the reticence of many doctors to believe anything bad about statins.
Reactions vary from, "You should be careful of what you read on the internet." to "Who are you going to believe, me or that website you read?" to a more inflammatory, "If you don't do what I say you will have to find a new doctor." And even, "If you don't take this statin you are going to die!"

None of this new material about statin drug side effects was taught in medical school, much of it has been minimized by the drug industry in their descriptive pamphlets for doctor information, much of this new information was not even known two years ago and most of the time it is the drug rep to whom the doctor must turn for enlightenment and need I add that therein lies the opportunity for gross misrepresentation.

The actions of statins are not limited to the regulation of cholesterol levels, as they can affect the production of other chemicals in the body too. As reductase inhibitors, statins work by blocking the reductase step at the beginning of the mevalonate biochemical pathway for the synthesis of cholesterol. Unfortunately many other vital biochemical substances such as coenzymeQ10 and dolichols use this same pathway and, inevitably, are adversely affected by statins.

If they think they as professionals are brainwashed by 40 years of anti-cholesterol hoopla, imagine the calculated mindset of the drug reps trained only to present their product in the best possible light.
Well I recall my own chagrin five years ago, when, while I was experiencing my own encounters with statin associated transient global amnesia (TGA), dozens of physicians and pharmacists assured me that, "Statins don't do that." Shortly after that I was to hear my FAA flight surgeon friend tell me that they were allowing commercial airline pilots to fly with statins because, "They didn't know that statins could do that."

Now there are have more than 500 documented reports of statin associated TGA and many thousands of reports of disabling forgetfulness, confusion, disorientation and aggravation of pre-existing senility and still we have MDs unaware of this reality. Despite the Pharmacotherapy publication by Wagstaff et al of 60 cases of statin associated TGA in August 2003, (gleaned from the FDA'S Medwatch repository) many practicing physicians still remain in the dark about this relationship of statins to cognitive dysfunction and dismiss any patient attempt to discuss it.

And, of course, this is not true only for cognition it is also equally true for CPK negative myopathy, persistent myopathy despite cessation of the statin, general fatigue, congestive heart failure, peripheral neuropathy, and a broad array of behavioral disorders, from irritability and aggression to depression and suicide. The documentation is there and it is easily found by anyone sufficiently interested to enter the proper search terms. Thousands of medical journal reports on this subject are now in existence.

And for those stalwarts who insist there is no significant cognitive loss with statin use, the twin studies of Muldoon (on both lovastatin and simvastatin and fully reported in traditional medical journals) document an amazing 100% cognitive impairment if sufficiently sensitive testing is done.
Yet, doctors still ignore, criticize or otherwise admonish their patients trying to bring this new information to his or her awareness. I remember well the words of Dr. Ellsworth Amidon, Vermont Medical College, professor of medicine in my medical school days, "Heed well the words of the patient, young man, for they are telling you the diagnosis."

Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor

Books From Amazon

The Dark Side of Statins
The Statin Damage Crisis
Cholesterol is Not the Culprit
Statin Drugs Side Effects
Lipitor, Thief of Memory

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