Heart | June 18, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
It is estimated that 30 million people worldwide are taking statins. Statins are a pharmaceutical prescription drug used to lower cholesterol. It was in 1784 that cholesterol was first isolated from gallstones, since then many scientists have dedicated their life’s work to understanding cholesterol and discovering the medicines that would control cholesterol levels in humans. In 1982 Lovastatin was the first statin drug to be commercially available. Today there are a number of other statins on the market with the most popular being Pfizer’s Lipitor. Statins have been trialled and tested in lots of large scale clinical trials over long periods of time, the results of these trials have consistently shown that statins will lower plasma LDL levels by 25-35% and reduce the frequency of heart attacks.
The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol. The liver produces an enzyme called HMG-CoA, it is this enzyme that is involved in the pathway that produces cholesterol. Cholesterol is carried around the bloodstream by proteins. Low density lipoproteins (LDL’s) are one of those types of proteins. LDL’s are commonly referred to as the bad cholesterol because they deposit cholesterol in the walls of the arteries, once in the arteries LDL cholesterol oxidizes forming plaques and damaging the lining of the arteries. This can potentially lead to heart attack and stroke.
Statins inhibit the enzyme HMG CoA this puts a stop to the pathway that produces cholesterol. Statins also increase the number of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors on the surface of liver cells, this results in more cholesterol being removed from the bloodstream. As well as lowering LDL levels statins are known to raise HDL levels by 5% - 15%.
Studies have also shown that statin drugs can help the body reabsorb cholesterol that has accumulated on the artery walls. Inside the blood vessels there is a thin layer of cells called the endothelium. Statins also help with endothelial functioning. Endothelial dysfunction often leads to atherosclerosis and this can cause other vascular diseases.
Statins are highly effective lipid lowering agents but common side effects of taking this drug are muscle pain, digestive problems, mental fuzziness or potentially liver damage.
While it is noted that memory loss is a potential side effect the product information generally doesn’t mention that cognitive impairment and confusion are a possible side effect while taking statins. The TGA are also reviewing the association between diabetes, increased blood sugar levels and statin use. At the moment there are varying recommendations for liver function blood tests when taking statins.
Periodic monitoring is recommended for most but not all statins.
Despite the uncomfortable side effects it is still the recommendation by the Australian heart foundation that statin therapy be prescribed for all patients with coronary heart disease / hyperlipidaemia. This therapy will be started in hospital as a treatment after any coronary episode and the patient is recommended to remain on statins even if there cholesterol lowers to a normal level as statins are thought to be beneficial in improving their overall health.
Coenzyme Q10 is important for mitochondrial biochemistry and is involved in the production of ATP. When statins inhibit the enzyme HMG Co-A they also inhibit one of the key steps in the production of Co Q10. It is known that this will then play a role in statin induced myopathy. It is recommended that individuals taking statins should also take 200-300mg of Co enzyme Q10 every day.
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Statin Answers Straight Facts about Cholesterol Drugs
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD., Ph.D. A review of the literature and evidence for a mitochondrial mechanism. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2008;8(6):373-418
Polyana Mendes, et al. Statin- Induced Rhabdomyolysis: A Comprehensive Review of Case Reports.2014 April; 66(2):124-132