Statins and Fatigue

Drugs known as statins are frequently prescribed to help lower cholesterol. Over 20 million American adults are on daily regimens of statins, which makes them one of the most-prescribed drugs of all time. New studies show that they may also contribute to cognitive issues, like confusion and memory loss. The new findings also indicate that they may also cause fatigue.

There are a number of statins currently being prescribed, Including atorvastatin, sold under the brand name of Lipitor; fluvastatin, marketed as Lescol; lovastatin, sold as Mevacor; pravastatin, or Pravachol; rosuvastatin, or Crestor; and simvastatin, sold as Zocor.

The new study had patients take low doses of Zocor (simvastatin), or Pravachol (pravastatin) or a placebo nightly for six months. The researchers chose these satins as they were the most fat-soluble and water-soluble of the statins, at doses expected to produce similar LDL ("bad cholesterol") reduction. The patients were then asked to rate their energy levels and how they felt after exercising. Those who were taking the statins were more likely to report lower overall energy and more fatigue with exertion than those who had been randomized to the placebo. Strikingly, women seemed to be disproportionately affected.

Severe fatigue or loss of energy can impact long term physical health and patient compliance in taking the drugs, said Beatrice Golomb, MD., PhD., the lead researcher of the study and an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

The study did not look to find why statins can lessen energy, but Dr. Golomb said one possible reason is that reducing cholesterol levels could lead to the production of less vitamin D. Insufficient levels of that nutrient can cause fatigue.

These findings may be relevant to the millions of Americans who currently take statins, as well as millions more who may one day start taking the medicines.

In the United States, coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in both men and women. Risk factors for coronary heart disease include smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure -- and elevated cholesterol levels, which statins effectively reduce. Previous studies demonstrate that statins are one of the most efficacious drugs in reducing the risk of having a future heart attack. In addition, statins have been shown to reduce the risk of strokes.

In 2011, simvastatin -- one of the drugs in the current study -- was the second-most prescribed medication in the U.S., accounting for 94.1 million prescriptions. Unfortunately, statins are also associated with a number of side effects, including muscle aches, flu-like symptoms, and liver toxicity. Furthermore, the adverse reactions become more severe as the dose of the statin is increased.

It has long been known that statins can cause muscle pain, particularly at high doses. In its new alert, the F.D.A. reminded doctors that when taken with some other medications, the statins can linger in the body for a longer period than normal and increase the risk of muscle pain. Among the drugs that conflict with statins are H.I.V. protease inhibitors like telaprevir and boceprevir and the antibiotics erythromycin and clarithromycin.

Most of those who use statins will have little or no side effects, but some may be at a higher risk than others. Risk factors include:

• Taking multiple cholesterol medications

• Women

• Smaller body frame

• Age 65 or older

• Having kidney or liver disease

• Having type I or II diabetes

Statins help many people keep healthier cholesterol levels. Many will instead choose more natural solutions.

An excellent cholesterol supplement that include many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the “bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!

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