Statins : significant under reported side effects

Posted , 9 users are following.

My husband had been on statins for some years and gradually his feet became numb to the point where he could not drive. I am a (retired) medical biochemist and I started to look into the drug and its side effects and discovered that it blocked the formation of cholesterol but also CoQ10 which is essential for muscle activity. We added CoQ10 to his medication without much immediate effect. He then developed gout and searching through the medical literature I found many reported cases of gout in patients on statins.  By this time he had developed atrial fibrillation and the cardiologist was very keen to keep him on statins although his cholesterol at this point was  3.5 and he was aged 76.  Further searching of the literature found reports of mortality rates of patients over the age of 75 with low cholesterols. Fortunately he had kept records of his cholesterol levels and his symptoms over the years (he is a research engineer by training) and decided to come off the statins.  His gout disappeared immediately,  the numb feet (peripheral neuropathy) are improving with acupuncture treatment and Vit B6 and his only problem now is recovering from the side effects of Amiodarone which was prescribied for his atrial fibrillation.   Ann W3

2 likes, 69 replies

Report / Delete

69 Replies

Next
  • Posted

    Strange - I discussed statins and "cardiac events" with my cardiologist - I had had horrendous muscle problems within 10 days of starting a statin, and that at half dose, so I stopped taking it. As far as she was concerned the atrial fibrillation, which had been the basis for the medics (not the cardiologist) starting the statin in response to a raised cholesterol, did not count as a "cariac event". Here in Italy the primary consideration for a/f is anticoagulation. Mine was sufficiently bad to require medication to control it and BP but that is fine, no side effects I can identify (Losartan, bisoprolol and propafenone).

    If the medics are happy when someone with a REALLY elevated cholesterol achieves 7, why is there such a drive to keep an otherwise relatively healthy 75 year old at 3.5? Which, there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest and as you found, isn't very healthy.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Not just in Italy but everywhere the primary medication for atrial fibrillaltion is anticoagulants - usually Warfarin - because with a/f there is the possibility of blood not moving through the heart valves smootly and this may allow it to clot and thus cause a blockbge.  The anticoagulants prevent this happening.  Some medics are more concerned with treating numbers than treating patients so a raised cholesterol is something they can focus on and do something about whether it is relevant or not.
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Yes, I know why the rat poison (I too was a biochemical medicine person!) - what I meant was that they don't go for the cardioversion first and foremost and everything is kept fairly simple. And the cardiologists were the ones who were least concerned. 

      In the UK I had a few friends who were admitted with rampant a/f episodes - and sent home on, at best, aspirin. They had to push for anything more. Here you don't get out of the hospital until appropriately adjusted on something - as my husband discovered when they found, on his birthday, that he has exercise triggered a/f. He was already on warfarin because of a protein C deficiency so that was fine - they let him home!

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Almost anything that alters the heartbeat like caffine, indigestion. Alcohol etc can trigger af. and once you have it it is almost spontaneous as it can cut its own electrical pathway thru the atrial tissue which is close to the vagal nerve and trigger itself
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      It was valium that triggered my 5 hour, heavy duty a/f episodes. To be fair it was i.v. and it is a rare but known side effect - but don't ask me to take any diazepam again...

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    It is truly sad that after so many reports regarding statins; side effects, NICE is continuing to bury its head in the sand.

    The average GP is very poorly trained in respect to this drug and therefore will use their Qrisk assessment forms to decide for them. The whole idea of just looking a total (serum) cholesterol, is rather naive.

    http://wp.me/p2i0Uz-Tw

    Have a look at this link; there is no evidence that cholesterols 'save' lives.

    The reported side effects are just the tip of the iceberg, I think. Many people on statins do not make the connection between the drug and their aches and pains.

    We need more people like your husband that can use their analytical skills to make sense of the statins invasion.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I don't think NICE is burying its head in the sand - that is too kind a statement. It is said that more than half the committee who made the recent statins recommendations have connections that could be described as conflicts of interest. I haven't seen the documents but I can well believe it.

      The main reason the figures they work on are skewed is that the yellow card system isn't used properly. GPs think that because someone has a severe side effect that is already known they don't need to report it - which removes the whole point of the scheme. Unless EVERY adverse effect in the general population is reported the true incidence will never be known and they will continue to believe it is "only a small number". And, as you say, the connection is rarely made.

      There is a hospital group in either Seattle or Vancouver, I can't remember which just that the person who told me is from one or the other, which has simvastatin on its forbidden list because of the trouble they believe it causes. And it does actually say in the data that one known adverse effect is of triggering polymyalgia rheumatica. Mine wasn't triggered by a statin - but a statin made it far far worse.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I found out quite by accident the true facts about why doctors prescribe which statin, regardless of NICE guidance etc.  Once a statin hits the 10 yr mark its off patent and the cost per tablet drops to just a few pence.  Simvastatin is one of those and thus it's dirt cheap, so the first choice of most doctors, regardless of whether it suits a particular individual given their existing health record. They go for it and if the patient is wise enough to go back and complain, they'll prescribe a different (better) type but which is more expensive.  The hope in terms of their practice budget is obviously however that we won't know enough to complain and we'll keep taking the poisonous cheap stuff in blind faith.  Managing their budget is thus more important than their patient's long term health - it disgusts me.
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      They have always prescribed the substance their last rep was singing the praises of - though they denied it. I've worked in medical marketing covering clinical trials long enough to know that they do it - and the honest ones admit it when questioned in the right way. You see it too in BP medications in the UK - amlodipine is handed out as first line. Loads of patients have horrid side effects but are scared to go back to the doctor and ask for something else. There are dozens to chose from so it isn't rocket science
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      What can we do about it?

      I have come across many complaints regarding statins on various sites.

      We should be able to set up a pressure group and make a formal complaint at the appropriate level.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Not sure there is a lot that can be done until someone comes up with some scientific backing to cholesterol NOT being the big baddie it is representated as.

      Statins DO achieve a reduction in repeat cardiovascular events in women and of first and repeat events in men, there is evidence for that - but it isn't because they reduce cholesterol. It is something else they do and lowering the cholesterol is just a side event. 

      All that is really feasible is to preach the gospel so people become more aware that they DO have side effects that are significant and common and encouraging them to make the link. Memory problems in older patients are also a nightmare - hello, increases in dementia rates anyone??? 

      Encouraging everyone who has had an adverse event to complete a yellow card submission would be a start - because the patient or the pharmacist can do it too. It doesn't have to be the GP. I suppose the best way would be to sue them, have a group claim made against the manufacturers - but I wouldn't know where to start with that. And proving that it was the statin rather than anything else would require some backing.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Would your GP give you a yellow card? I wonder how often they actually fill one out. The monthly prescribing manual BNF used to have one yellow card in it when my wife used to bring me an old copy from the hospital.
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      The research he's referred to is the same as my comments were based on. I have sut sugar and simple carbs drastically - and I'm including pasta, the standby of the so-called "healthy diet" - and eat natural fats in meat and so on as I like. Perhaps the biggest difference to be noted is the AMOUNT I eat - no breakfast except 3 mugs of tea, a big salad for lunch and meat and veg or salad for dinner. If we go out I don't fuss about what is on the plate except for too much carb - but I always have a tub with me to take the excess home. Our village restaurants will pack it for us but that causes more rubbish than a plastic box! I more often than not get 2 meals out of it, in the restaurant and one at home. But I am rarely hungry and if I feel peckish a cup of tea or a few cherry tomatoes or a raw carrot does the job. My husband eats even less but that is historical because of loss of sense of taste due to chemotherapy. He also rarely feels hungry. 

      People eat too much overall, graze all day and eat far too much carbohydrate. The healthiest the UK population was during the war when there was rationing - a lot less of most things. The only flaw was the margarine!

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Lipitor saved my ilfe after a heart attack and bypass in 1998. 8.3 then down to 3.4 now and for the past 18 years. Grafts still in good shape and never felt better heartwise. Arterial schlerosis (blocked arteries) is also one of the major causes of atrial fibrulation which I had big time after years of high cholesterol.
      Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up