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Tuesday 10 March 2015

Statin Adverse Effects Much More Common than Appreciated, States Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

TUCSON, Ariz., March 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Family physician Duane Graveline, M.D., a former astronaut, used to prescribe statin drugs enthusiastically to lower cholesterol. Then he took them as a patient. When he published his experience with transient global amnesia in Peoples Pharmacy, he received some 30,000 emails reporting statin adverse effects. After FDA's MedWatch database became available, Graveline compiled reports. His results appear in the spring 2015 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Physicians are often dismissive of patients' reports of weakness or cognitive decline, states Graveline. They may attribute complaints to aging, or say "statins don't do that."

A recent FDA posting downplays the risk of cognitive impairment as "generally not serious" and reversible within a few weeks of stopping the drug.

FDA's deputy director for safety, Amy Egan, M.D., M.P.H., advises patients not to stop the drugs if they experience "cloudy thinking."

Graveline notes, however, that an amnesic state so brief that the patient doesn't notice it can be very dangerous in an airline pilot or heavy equipment operator. He counted almost 9,000 MedWatch reports in the category of severe cognitive disturbance for atorvastatin and rosuvastatin alone between 2006 and 2013.

Statins block an essential metabolic pathway, Graveline explains, leading to a deficiency in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinone) and dolichols. These factors are critical to the function of mitochondria, the body's energy producers. Additionally, cholesterol itself is considered by many to be the most important biochemical in the body, as it is especially vital for cognitive function.

Accelerated aging seems to be a common feature of statin adverse effects.

The most commonly reported effect is muscle pain and weakness. There were nearly 11,000 cases in MedWatch of rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle fibers, with about 1,000 deaths from kidney failure as the breakdown products clog the kidneys.

Patients and physicians need to be better informed about potential adverse effects of statin drugs, with a careful assessment of risks and benefits, and attention to achieving the inflammation-reducing effects of statins with lower doses or alternate means, Graveline concludes.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943. The Journal is committed to "promoting open debate and scientific integrity." Articles represent the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect an official position of AAPS or the Journal.

SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)


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