Statins – drugs designed to reduce heart disease risk, ostensibly by lowering certain types of blood cholesterol – come with a host of document side effects, some of which can be so severe that certain patients cannot tolerate them. A new study reveals that responses such as muscle pain, weakness and cramping are real rather than imaginary. In addition, previous research strongly suggests that these drugs also could proximately cause diabetes, liver damage and life-threatening muscle damage as well as lead to neurological impairments like memory loss and confusion. For more details about these effects, see FDA Links Cholesterol-Reducing Medications to Other Medical Issues.
In the new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists found 42.6 percent of patients who complained of muscle pain while on a statin regimen experienced no adverse reactions when given a placebo. They also discovered the administration of a drug known as a PCSK9 inhibitor for 24 weeks halved levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Although this class of drugs currently costs much more than statins, researchers suggested PCSK9 inhibitors could one day be an option for patients who are intolerant of statins.
Meanwhile, a growing and increasingly vocal group of doctors, including British cardiologist, Aseem Malhotra, has been arguing that the raison d’ etre of statins – to lower “bad” cholesterol – is essentially a fool’s errand. Malhotra and other cardiologists who share his position question the fundamental idea that high levels of LDL cholesterol cause heart disease and that lowering LDL leads to protective effects. These cardiologists further argue that changes to diet – specifically, lowering refined carbohydrate and increasing consumption of healthy protein and fats – can lead to improved metabolic and lipid profiles (e.g. lower triglycerides, higher HDL “good” cholesterol, lower CRP markers, lower fasting insulin, etc.)
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