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Statins to reduce cholesterol

What are statins?

Statins are being widely promoted for primary prevention of heart disease.

Concern is growing about the effects on the mind of these drugs as nightmares and memory loss are being reported as side effects. Statins are prescription and over the counter medicines that are commonly used to reduce the level of LDL (known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels in the blood.

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • pravastatin (Lipostat)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor).

Controversy over the benefits and possible harms of Statins Following an article in The medical journal the Lancet, the editor of the British Medical Journal requested a review by the Chief Medical Officer of Statins.

Concern of the editor and many other people who do not benefit financially from the promotion of medicines, is most research on which the promotion of Statins in based, is funded by the pharmaceutical industry and raw data has not been reviewed by the medicines regulatory body.

Cardiovascular medicine
  1. Malene Lopez Kristensen1,
  2. Palle Mark Christensen1,
  3. Jesper Hallas1,2

Scientist and investigative journalist Maryanne Demasi spoke about the Statin industry"Statin Wars"

Secrecy of hidden raw data with evidence of benefit or otherwise following statin trials. Shocking information - however do not stop taking Statins without thoroug investigation. Just be wary if your doctor promotes the drug without explaining about the adverse effects. Do your own research. Find the information about specific medicines on the Pharmaceutical industry Electronic Medicines Compendium 


What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat called a lipid made in the liver and affected by fatty foods. We need a certain amount of cholesterol to keep well and it is believed that if the cholesterol is too low there is more risk of cancer.

How do statins work?
Statins work by blocking the action of a certain enzyme (chemical) in the liver which is needed to make cholesterol. They have limited effect on HDL (good) cholesterol and no effect on triglycerides (fats) that are considered to be an indicator of risk of heart disease. They are said to decrease CoEnzyme Q10 which is an essential nutrient for heart strength and function.

Do statins save lives when used for primary prevention?
Without discussing the use of statins for people with pre existing cardio- vascular conditions, it seems for the average person who has never had a heart problem there is no evidence that taking these drugs will keep them healthier or save one's life.

Can cholesterol be reduced without the use of drugs?
By reducing the amount of meat, dairy and animal fat in your diet, eating more vegetables and fruit. Possibly the use of yoghurt or spreads containing plant esterols and getting regular exercise (even walking!) can reduce to satisfactory levels the amount of cholesterol in an average person.

Related Information and Links
For more information please read the data provided by the UK manufacturers on the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries Web site insert the drug name of your medicine in the search box.

Statins may cause nightmares and insomnia

Warning from BUPA:
Do not take any other medicines or herbal remedies with a statin, including those you have bought without a prescription, before talking to your doctor or pharmacist.

Some antidepressants, antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, immunosuppressants and other lipid-lowering drugs increase the risk of serious muscle problems with the statins. Grapefruit juice increases the levels of simvastatin in the body. Discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist if you regularly drink grapefruit juice. Some antibiotics interact with certain statins to increase or reduce, the normal metabolism (breakdown) of the statin. The anticlotting effect of warfarin is increased by simvastatin.


Reporting Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs)

Please report all serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) if you have suffered depression, nightmares, insomnia, suicidal thoughts or any other unpleasant symptoms since you started taking statins

It is well known that serious side effects of medicines are under reported and the UK regulatory body the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) estimate that less than 10% are ever reported.

If you have suffered psychiatric, neurological or physical adverse reactions please report them. There may be side effects not mentioned on the data sheets.

You can request a list of drugs used pre surgery and during surgery. You should be given patient information for all drugs prescribed as you are discharged from hospital, or if the pharmacy supplies you from a bulk supply of pills. (EU Directive 1997)

Please report Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) to:

UK Yellow Card Reporting for Patient and Health Professional reports of Adverse Drug Reactions you can report to the MHRA using the link above or call them 0808 100 3352 10am - 2pm Monday to Friday

USA and worldwide to the Food and Drug Administration for Patients and Healthcare Professionals

Universal free, independent drug safety website - Rxisk

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