Q. My father takes Niaspan and Lipitor, which have lowered his cholesterol to 110. Isn’t that too low?
He has severe arthritis, memory problems and debilitating fatigue. I worry that he is taking too much medicine, but he says the doctor knows best and refuses to question him.
A. The issue of whether cholesterol can be too low is controversial. There is evidence, however, that low cholesterol levels may increase a person’s risk of stroke caused by bleeding within the brain. Researchers have also found that depression is more common in people with very low cholesterol.
High cholesterol puts a person at risk of a heart attack or stroke caused by a blood clot, so balance is essential.
Some people have found that cholesterol medications such as simvastatin (Zocor) or atorvastatin (Lipitor) may contribute to fatigue, arthritis or memory problems.
We summarize information on a range of factors, the dangers of too low cholesterol and guidelines for optimal levels in our Guides to Heart Health and Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs. You can also find a wide range ways to help control cholesterol in our book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. You will learn much more about the dark side of statins and the optimal range for blood fats like cholesterol. Perhaps your father will be willing to read the information in our book and discuss it with his physician.