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A Woman’s Heart, Possible Permanent Muscle Damage from Statin Usage

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Have you ever heard someone say that the cure is worse than disease? Or maybe, if the disease (whatever it may be) doesn’t kill you the cure will? Sometimes, it does seem as if this is the case!

I think that I have yet to fill a prescription where the pharmacist didn’t go over a long list of risks and warning signs with me before letting me leave with my little white sack of drugs. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder just how safe some of these medications really are!

All medications have some type of side effect or risks associated with them. Some are mild and then some can be very serious. Statin drugs are no exception. If you have high cholesterol or are at risk for developing heart disease, then at some point in your lifetime, your doctor may recommend a statin drug to assist in lowering your cholesterol levels in an effort to protect your heart from damage.

There are currently five major statin drugs in use:
• Lipitor (atorvastatin)
• Zocor (simvastatin)
• Mevacor (lovastatin)
• Pravachol (pravastatin)
• Crestor (rosuvastatin)

Statin drugs have multiple side effects. The most commonly reported side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation and muscle and joint aches, rash and flushing. While bothersome, these are relatively mild and easily treated. Other side effects are not so mild. Statins have been linked to permanent liver damage, which can be very serious. They’ve also been linked to Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) which is a neurological disorder. In addition, statins have been known to cause statin myophathy (myotoxicity).

Statin myophathy is characterized by weakness, pain and tenderness in the muscles. These symptoms can become so extreme as to interfere with your day to day activities. For example, you may find that your muscles are too painful to allow you to walk or climb stairs. This type of reaction to statin usage could have tremendous impacts on your quality of life and your lifestyle in general.

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Dr. Dach, Thank you so much for your post! This is great information for our readers to know when trying to make a decision regarding statin usage.

My mother is one who has suffered permanent muscle damage from statin usage. Because of that fact, I've refused to take statins even though my doctor has really pushed me to do so. I managed to lower my bad cholesterol 45 points last year without statins. Even though it's still considered 'high,' it's the lowest it's ever been in my adult life and I'm glad I did it without taking statins. I'm still working on my goals to lower it further (without drugs). Your post just encouraged me that my decision not to use statins was a good one!

March 18, 2010 - 7:40am

Judith Walsh MD who wrote this in JAMA, 4 years ago in an article entitled, Treatment of Hyperlipidemia in Women:


"For women without cardiovascular disease, lipid lowering does not affect total or CHD (Cardiovascular Heart Disease) mortality. Lipid lowering may reduce CHD events, but current evidence is insufficient to determine this conclusively. For women with known cardiovascular disease, treatment of hyperlipidemia is effective in reducing CHD events, CHD mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and revascularization, but it does not affect total mortality."

Translation: Cholesterol lowering with statin drugs does not reduce total mortality in women, PERIOD. It doesn’t reduce mortality in women without heart disease, called primary prevention. It doesn’t reduce mortality in women with heart disease, called secondary prevention.

Considering the adverse effects of memory loss, muscle pain and damage, why should any woman take a statin drug?

for more:


jeffrey dach md

March 18, 2010 - 5:49am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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