Family Matters

Statins

There was another reason why we got interested in health issues.  Another very personal reason…

A couple of years ago my family (mother and brothers) had been concerned that my father was having problems with his memory. They had him take a dementia test which he passed, so apparently he wasn’t getting Alzheimer’s.

About a year ago (maybe longer) my mother was telling me about incidents where my father would become irrationally irritable and verbally aggressive with people.  This was really out of character as he was always such a non-judgemental person.  But all we really said was – ‘It’s just old age’.  But why should it be old age?

I can’t even remember now as to why we started our research into statins.  Maybe because it seems that nearly every male over the age of 40 appears to be taking the drug and Mike, being Mike, had to question why!  Maybe it was our research into ‘food and health’ that lead us to investigate fats and oils that then lead to examine cholesterol and hence scrutinize the question of statins…

As I wasn’t living in Perth it was hard for me to understand what was really happening.  Perhaps the fact that I was living away was a good thing, as when you’re around things all the time you often don’t notice the changes.  They can be so gradual that they seem normal… Perhaps that when I moved back and I suddenly saw for myself how my father had changed made me want to actively act to find out a way to reverse these effects.

Our research was extensive and a couple of good references are

In summary it seems that the side effects of statins could be causing my father’s problems.   One of the issues with statins is that not only do they prevent cholesterol production but they also stop other metabolic functions that are produced in the same pathway.

Potential side effects from statins include:

  • Lipitor seems to be the worst culprit for causing memory loss
  • memory loss, depression, confusion, irritability and dizziness
  • muscle pains and muscle weakness in up to 20% of people who take them

This seems to cover my father’s recent health issues…  And Lipitor (he is on 80mg!) seems to be the worst culprit with St Thomas Hospital noting that 36% of patients on 80mg Lipitor noted side effects. It’s also interesting to note that only about 10% of users actually report side effects at all.  I also have a feeling that when the patient is elderly, if they complain of these side effects it’s dismissed as ‘old age’ – as we did with my father…

Another fact that appears to be overlooked is that high dose Lipitor does not seem to have any benefit over low dosages… As in the Lipitor‘s TNT trial where 5000 heart patients for 5 years on 80 mg top-dose suffer 2 more deaths than patients on only 10 mg.

There is so much to say about statins, cholesterol and health I don’t really know where to start.  I’ll try and explain things somehow over the next weeks…  To start with, here is a summary page on statins and how they work:

Statins – The Basics

So I’m going with my father to visit his cardiologist tomorrow to try and understand why he is on statins and why is he on 80mg.

Wish me luck!

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