Monday, March 19, 2007

Hypertension 43: Statins

This is a post about Statins. It is not a biography of Harold Statin and his family. I think Harold Statin was a Vice Presidential candidate in the United States. Probably you have never heard of Harold Statin. Don't feel bad: back in his own time, not that many people knew of him.

If you think that joke about Statins was bad, check out the last post & the biblical pun.

I started taking Lipitor in early October, 2006, when I was put on much more powerful prescription medications for Hypertension. Lowering blood cholesterol was part of the deal. I knew the medication could cause liver damage, but at that point medicating myself was on my mind (did Willie Nelson ever sing that song?)

About two or three months later, I began to notice aches in my legs. Sometimes it was just an annoying ache, in the background. Sometimes, in particular when I walked briskly to the fast food court in the mall near work (stop laughing at me, I got nice Japanese food at the fast food court...well okay I also got healthy Chinese food or it would be healthy without all those fattening sauces on it...and I rarely got a mozza burger which I really like, especially with those onion rings, and...where was I?) my legs began to ache painfully. I used to do that ten or fifteen minute walk each way with no problems. Suddenly the aching would be so painful I actually had to stop until the pain went away a little.

I mentioned this to my wife, who mentioned there were well known concerns (except to patients, of course) about statins. When I saw my family doctor, the WMD, and mentioned the aches, he ordered a blood test and, as something of an afterthought, took me off Lipitor. It's been perhaps three weeks now, and the aches in my legs have gone away.

No more Lipitor for me!

Here is an article in a recent Sunday Telegraph, a UK newspaper. It was brought to my attention by a very helpful reader. I'm sure it is copyrighted by them, and although I did not ask permission to reprint it here, I'm sure they won't mind. Buy the Sunday Telegraph. And maybe become a patient of Dr. James LeFanu! And respond to his request for more information at the bottom of the article--patients around the world, unite!

"If you want to feel younger, forget your statins

"By Dr James LeFanu

"A doctor accused of wittingly prescribing useless or possibly lethal drugs would vehemently, and understandably, deny it. This makes it rather difficult to oppose the prevailing medical consensus on statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed to four million people in Britain at a cost of £1 billion a year.Thats quite a sum. It could pay the salaries of 700,000 nurses or build two spanking new teaching hospitals.

"An even bigger sum is £15 billion. That is the profit the pharmaceutical industry made last year from this, the most profitable class of drugs ever invented. They are so profitable that the latest statins to reach the market came with a £600 million promotion budget to push the notion to family doctors and policymakers that the lower the cholesterol the better, and that at least half the population would benefit from the drugs.

"But it is not so.

"Statins are useless for 95 per cent of those taking them, while exposing all to the hazard of serious side-effects. Hence my ever-growing file of letters from those whove regrettably had to find this out for themselves, illustrated by this all-too-typical tale from Roger Andrews of Hertfordshire who was first prescribed statins after an operation for an aortic aneurism (that he had cleverly diagnosed himself).

"Over the past few years, Mr Andrews had become increasingly decrepit (what can one expect at 74?) with pain and stiffness in the legs and burning sensations in the hands so bad that when flying to his son's wedding in Hawaii he needed walking sticks and a wheelchair at the transfer stops. However, he forgot to pack his statins, and felt so much better after his three-week holiday that when he got home he decided to continue the inadvertent experimentof not taking them. Since October, most if not all of his crippling side-effects have gone.

"Several friends can tell a similar story, and they have friends too.

"The take-home message is that statins are only of value in those with a strong family history of heart disease or men with a history of heart attacks. For everyone else they are best avoided as they seriously interfere with the functioning of the nerve cells, affecting mental function, and muscles.

"This is all wittily explained in a recent book by a Cheshire family doctor, Malcolm Kendrick, The Great Cholesterol Con (John Blake Publishing, £9.99). There are, I suspect, many out there, like Mr Andrews, wrongly attributing their decrepitude to Anno Domini, when the real culprits are statins.

"I would be more than interested to hear from anyone who finds that giving them a resteffects a similarly miraculous transformation."

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