Elevated cholesterol levels are routinely treated with statin drugs. These drugs come with a long list of side effects, including muscle pain, liver damage, dementia, increased risk of violence, diabetes and neurological problems. Last week a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that statins also have adverse effects on energy levels and induce fatigue with exertion. The authors of the study stated that this side effect alone may affect 20-40% of statin users. So given the fact that for primary prevention of heart attacks 100 people need to take these drugs to prevent 1 from having a heart attack, here is what those 100 people will experience:
- 1 person will avoid a heart attack
- 1-2 people will become diabetic
- 7 will experience musculoskeletal pain
- 2-3 will have liver toxicity
- 2 will have elevated creatine phosphokinase levels (CPK), indicating damage to the heart or skeletal muscle
Overall statins increase the risk of an adverse effect by 39% compared to placebo. Here is some important information you need to know if you decide to take one of these drugs.
Why do statins cause fatigue?
One theory is the fact that they cause a reduction in the levels of Coenzyme Q10. Like cholesterol, Coenzyme Q10 is produced in the liver. When statin drugs block cholesterol production they inadvertently block Coenzyme Q10 production as well. Coenzyme Q10 is one of the main sources for cell energy. It is the fuel that runs the engine. It is also highly concentrated in the heart muscle and low levels are associated with an increased risk of heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle weakens and its ability to pump blood is diminished. One of the major symptoms of heart failure is fatigue.
Is the fatigue caused by statins heart failure?
There is little research to prove or disprove that statins may cause heart failure. My belief if that it is certainly a possibility and more research needs to be done in this area. The small amount of research that has been done is very alarming. A study done by Coenzyme Q10 expert and cardiologist Dr. Peter H. Langsjoen showed that 71% of patients without heart problems who were put on a low dose of a statin medication developed diastolic dysfunction (a potential cause of heart failure). He also found that this effect was alleviated in 44% of people who took 300mg of Coenzyme Q10.
The fatigue caused by statins may be due to their effect on the diastolic function of the heart. If you or anyone that you know takes a statin to lower cholesterol, it is imperative that you take 200-300mg of Coenzyme Q10 in the form of Ubiquinol. If you would like to find ways to lower cholesterol without the use of statins, contact me and we can design a plan that works for you.