Barbara Morris <[email protected]
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Is cholesterol medication affecting your mind?
If not now, maybe years later . . . June, 2004
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Read about . . .
-- Is Lipitor Right For You?
-- Dr. Graveline's Horror Story
-- Help Yourself
You've seen and heard TV commercials exhorting you to "Ask your doctor if "drug X" is right for you". If you are taking cholesterol medication, especially Lipitor, the following information is right for you because your doctor may not know about it.
If you are not taking cholesterol medication, but know others who do, share this
newsletter with them (and ask them to subscribe!) Is Lipitor Right For You?
As a pharmacist, I probably hear more complaints about anti-cholesterol medications
called "statin" drugs, (Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol) than any other kind of
medication. Typically, statins can cause muscle soreness, muscle weakness, and worse.
There have been documented cases of statin related complete muscle breakdown and
even death. It is one reason a popular anti-cholesterol statin, Baycol, was taken off the
One of my favorite anti-aging physicians, Stephen Sinatra, M.D. is cautious about statin drugs. On the one hand, he believes they are useful because they reduce arterial inflammation and he suspects that internal inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, including those of the heart and blood vessels. On the other hand, Dr. Sinatra is well aware of the common side effect of statins - muscle pain and weakness, and he also knows that taking a substance, CoQ10, (you can buy over the counter, or purchase it from: Longevity Labs http://www.longevitylabs.net) can help alleviate the problem. The problem is, in controlling cholesterol, statins also control the formation of CoQ10.
As an aside, it is interesting to know that a major pharmaceutical company, Merck, manufacturer of Mevacor, obtained a patent for the combination of CoQ10 with statins in one prescribed dose, but no further action has been taken to bring such a combination tomarket. Also interesting is that in Canada, the Lipitor warning label includes not only warnings about CoQ10 depletion, but l-carnitine deficiencies as well.
However, as eloquently as Dr. Sinatra and other alternative physicians address concerns about side effects of statins, to my knowledge, no one has expounded at length on reported severe memory loss and other negative cognitive effects of statins.
Because I haven't seen much in depth information about statins relative to cognitive
function, I didn't think there were significant cognitive problems until I read Lipitor:
Thief of Memory
by Duane Graveline, M.D., a former astronaut, aerospace medical
research scientist, flight surgeon and family doctor. His personal story about his
experience with Liptior, and accounts of others affected by Lipitor are presented in this
chilling book, and should be of concern to anyone taking Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, or any
of the new potent statins.
Dr. Graveline's Horror Story
Six weeks after starting Lipitor, Dr. Graveline experienced his first episode of transient
global amnesia (TGA), which manifests as an inability to make new memories as well as
a variable loss of old memories, and now known to be triggered by use of statin drugs.
(Other triggers of TGA can include severe physical exertion, and emotional stresses.)
With the onset of TGA, which can be sudden and without warning, or occur many years
after being on statin therapy, there also may be extreme forgetfulness, disorientation
and confusion. Many physicians are unaware of cognitive problems associated with statin
drugs and TGA symptoms are often dismissed as old age, onset of senility or perhaps
One day when Dr. Graveline returned from his morning walk his wife found him aimlessly walking around the driveway and yard. When she spoke to him, he was confused and gave no evidence of recognizing her. She offered him something to eat buthe refused to go into their home. Reluctantly, he agreed to see a doctor, who referred him to a neurologist at a nearby hospital. The neurological exam was normal, and about six hours after his wife first noticed his condition he began to return to his normal self. He was able to drive home, but was bewildered by his wife's account of what had transpired earlier in the day.
Six weeks later, he experienced a second episode of TGA. During a 12-hour span, he regressed in memory back to his teens, precisely recalling details of high school years, but with no awareness of ever having been a family doctor, or astronaut. Only after he regained his senses did he realize the implications of the loss he sustained during the 12-hour episode.
His doctors finally correctly diagnosed TGA, but refused to accept a Lipitor connection. Even his wife was ready to believe that his amnesia episodes with Lipitor were probably coincidental, hinting that the aging process might be implicated.
Dr. Graveline documents several other cases of Lipitor related memory and cognitive impairment-- more devastating than his -- and cites research of other doctors, particularly Kilmer S. McCully, M.D., that supports the Lipitor-TGA connection.
Since the onset of TGA is abrupt, and patients can no longer formulate new memories and are perplexed about their surroundings, Dr. Graveline is concerned about consequences of giving statins to flight personnel. (I am concerned about anyone on a statin who is charged with the safety of others, or themselves.)
As an aside, in the pharmacy in which I work I deal with so many people whose cognitive abilities seem impaired. They need someone to help write a check, or they can't figure out how to use the charge machine, or are just fuzzy and disoriented. I'm not talking about old, old folks - I'm talking about people in their fifties! Is it their cholesterol medication, or something else?
Dr. Graveline and other researchers and open-minded physicians have concluded that cholesterol is a passive player in cardiovascular disease. He believes we need to focus oninflammation caused by elevated levels of substances called homocysteine, and C Reactive Protein (CRP) - which doctors can test for. When arterial walls are irritated by these substances, cholesterol passing through is more likely to cling to the walls and thus, build up occurs. If you are being treated for high cholesterol and your doctor has not ordered tests for homocysteine and CRP, ask for them.
So what to do with rampant high cholesterol? First, recognize that the body absolutely needs cholesterol for hormone production, cell membrane integrity and yes, mental function! We can't live without it. Then what do you do about cholesterol-clogged arteries? Dr. Graveline believes over the counter supplements, B-12, B-6 and folic acid will go a long way toward controlling arterial inflammation and alleviating the cholesterol buildup. In fact, I am beginning to see doctors writing prescriptions for this vitamin combination for cholesterol patients. Read up on this simple remedy, talk to your doctor about it, and if he or she is unaware of what to do, do some more research to determine how much you should be taking.
This is not to suggest that this vitamin combination alone can or will reverse severely clogged arteries. However, a combination of these vitamins and a reduced dose of statin, along with a back-to-basics diet may go a long way toward protecting you from statin induced cognitive and physical problems.
Please don't underestimate the importance of diet. Dr. Graveline states, "There is now
compelling reason for a radical change in our nation's diet and less dependence on
pharmaceutical 'crutches' and fat-free nutrition. To fight arteriosclerosis, one must fight
its cause. We need a nutrition and health program directed at homocysteine
toxicity, the primary cause of arteriosclerosis, society's greatest public health
What is a back to basics diet? One that starts with getting rid of ingestible garbage. The very first step to take is to refuse to have colas, sodas of any kind, and chips in your home. Same goes for jugs of colored sugar water masquerading as juice drinks. If kids or adolescent adults whine, "What will we drink?" The answer is, "Water." If they whine, "What will we do for snacks"? Try fruit or nuts. Money saved on worthless ingestibles can be used to purchase vitamins and supplements.
The American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics states: "The patients right of
self-decision is exercised only if the patient possesses enough information to enable an
intelligent choice." This applies to medication treatment as well as surgery. "Enough
information" means being informed about true risks. The message is this: If you are on
any kind of cholesterol medication, you must read Lipitor: Thief of Memory
Remember, it's your body, it's your life. YOU are responsible for YOUR health - not your doctor. You have power to keep yourself well. Learn how to use your power.
You may also wish to read my book, Put Old on Hold
, available on Amazon, my
website, http://www.PutOldonHold.com or toll free 888-254-5368. It may help you
avoid getting to the point where you need to fight high cholesterol.
Also, check out the following websites: http://www.DrSinatra.com and http://www.DrWhitaker.com. Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Dr. Julian Whitaker are traditionally trained physicians who practice integrative medicine, which is the best of traditional medicine and alternative therapies. Both publish print newsletters I would not be without.
Barbara Morris, R.Ph. Quick Links.
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