and Statin Drugs
Their Benefits and Side Effects
Learn About Reducing Cholesterol with Statin Drugs
and Their Possible Side Effects
You can hardly make it through a news program without being bombarded by an advertisement for prescription cholesterol drugs. Does this sound familiar? “When diet and exercise are not enough to lower your cholesterol, ask your doctor if (brand name statin) is right for you."
All Prescription Cholesterol Medications are based on one of two approaches.
Cholesterol Drugs Fall Into Two Categories
- The first category of cholesterol drugs includes cholesterol binders—medications that block the absorption of cholesterol in your stomach.
These cholesterol medications absorb cholesterol which is either produced in your liver or is the result of cholesterol from the foods that you eat. This class of cholesterol drugs attaches itself to cholesterol and moves it through your system until it is excreted with a bowel movement. The idea here is, if the cholesterol is eliminated from the body by excretion, it cannot get into the bloodstream. Two commonly used cholesterol drugs are Questran and Welchol.
- The second category of cholesterol drugs includes the large group of highly advertised “statin” cholesterol medications that block cholesterol synthesis in your liver. These statin drugs include recognized medications such as Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor and Lescol.
When statins were first introduced, they were prescribed primarily to people with heart disease. In time, advertising to the public and heavy marketing to medical professionals have led us to believe that statins are appropriate for all people.
Six statin drugs are now available: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). All together, statin drugs drive a $20 billion a year world-wide market, with Lipitor No. 1, far ahead of any other prescription statin drug sold in the U.S. No head-to-head comparison or testing has ever been conducted to determine whether one is superior to the others.
Although statins are commonly used interchangeably to reduce LDL cholesterol, studies have shown differences in the degree of effectiveness and the possible side effects associated with various statins.
Statin Drugs Work, but for Many Users Statin Drug Side
Effects are Intolerable and Dangerous
While it is true that statins are safe for most people, it is common knowledge, even among prescribing physicians, that there can be very dangerous statin drug side effects in some people. When certain side effects are experienced you must stop taking these drugs and contact a physician immediately.
The acknowledged side effects of statins include muscle pain and weakness, the suppression of the body's formation of Co-enzyme Q10 and a potentially fatal muscle-wasting disorder called rhabdomyolysis. One statin, Baycol, has been withdrawn from the market because it was linked to 31 deaths from rhabdomyolysis.
While some side effects are minor, there are a number of serious side effects that could occur as a result of taking statin drugs. For example, muscle aches and tenderness are side effects that must be immediately reported to a physician. Another side effect is the development of abnormal liver function, which is not obvious and can only be diagnosed by a liver enzyme test. The T.V. ads say “liver problems can be detected by a simple liver test." Simple for whom? Do you really want to take a liver enzyme test every six months? And what about the cost and time that it takes to visit a lab? Does that sound simple to you?
Patients are advised in a multi-page warning disclosure that must be provided with every statin prescription and refill to “Notify your physician if you experience any of the side effects listed below. Here is a copy of the 19-page warning that comes with the statin drug Zocor. The information is so lengthy and is printed in such fine print, it's doubtful that most users ever read it, and what’s worse, that includes many of the doctors prescribing the medication.
While these side effects are reported to affect only about 2% of all statin users, many physicians report a much higher incidence. Some practitioners are seeing so many problems they are beginning to question the long-term effects of continued use.
Here are Common Side Effects Associated with Statin Drugs:
- Allergic reaction (new onset of wheezing, respiratory congestion, itching or skin rashes)
- Muscle pain
- Decreased sexual interest or ability
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Excessive gas or belching
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Skin rash
Because of these side effects and adverse reactions, the FDA recommends prescribing cholesterol medications and statins only when cholesterol levels are markedly elevated or to those who have significant other risks of developing or already have coronary heart disease.
In addition to statin side effects, some people resist statin drugs because of the high cost and the understated fact that to keep your cholesterol levels low, you may be required to take a statin drug for the rest of your life. If statin drug side effects are a concern, you may want to consider alternatives to prescription cholesterol drugs such as natural supplements. Natural supplements are free from side effects and work to lower cholesterol levels naturally.
To learn more about alternatives to cholesterol medications and their side effects, consider this proven natural cholesterol supplement that guarantees a 40 point reduction in 8 weeks or less.
New studies are being undertaken by researchers that are not on the payroll of the drug companies. Many researchers question statin drug safety and feel that further study is warranted. Here is one example:
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe News wire) -- Those "miracle" pills that lower your cholesterol may, in fact, do more harm than good. At least one researcher is out to determine if statins pose more risks than benefits.
Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of California, San Diego, is involved in an NIH-funded study of 1,000 subjects who have been randomized to receive statins or placebos.
The research comes during a time when statins are now being questioned by doctors and patients alike. Dr. Golomb says, "From the reports that come into us, people are experiencing severe muscle weakness, which is also linked to cognitive problems. Those cognitive problems include everything from the inability to recall names or balance a checkbook, to forgetting entire episodes.”
The concern, says Dr. Golomb, is that statins haven't been adequately studied for their harmful effects. She tells Ivanhoe: "We're really interested in the balance of risks and benefits of these drugs. There are lots and lots of people looking at the benefit side. There are so few people evaluating the risk side.”
Are Prescription Cholesterol Drugs Really Right for You?
Every day thousands of patients are placed on prescription drugs of some sort by their physicians who believe this is the correct action or are among the many who are simply following the recommended protocol. Whose protocol? Well first, the amazing answer is the pharmaceutical company’s protocol. The same companies who promote their products by paying for the golf outings and Caribbean trips for physicians and sponsoring seminars held on cruise ships or luxurious hotels located in places like Maui and Acapulco.
While most physicians have their patients' interests in mind, the fact is they are overloaded with cases and have little time to learn about nutrition, herbs or alternatives to prescription drugs. Another concern is medical liability, and doctors have little interest in anything that is not 100% approved by the FDA and their insurance carriers. So do not look to physicians for impartial answers to your prescription drug questions.
Get Informed, Become Responsible for Your Own
Health and Treatment Options.
Today, the internet is a rich source of information that was not easily available to the public 10 years ago. Use it to your benefit on all your health concerns. With a little homework, you will know the answer to the question, “Are prescription cholesterol drugs right for you?"
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