Q. I have been on so many cholesterol-lowering drugs I have nearly lost count. Crestor, Lipitor, Zetia and Zocor all give me terrible pains in my shoulders, back and arms. I also have had dreadful muscle cramps in my calves, especially at night.
I don’t know how much longer I can stand taking Crestor, but my doctor just says without it I’m a heart attack waiting to happen. Is there any natural way to lower cholesterol? I want to stay healthy, but the pain interferes with my ability to exercise and has affected my quality of life.
A. If your medicine is preventing you from exercising, it could be counterproductive for your health. Many readers have lowered their cholesterol with red yeast rice. Here is one success story:
“My cardiologist suggested I try red yeast rice. Within six weeks my LDL level had dropped from 187 to 123.”
Although readers who have written us about their experience with this dietary supplement rarely have troublesome side effects, some susceptible people do develop muscle pain or weakness while taking this product. If you decide to try it, your doctor should monitor your progress and your liver enzymes. Taking Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) might reduce the risk of muscle pain from statins or red yeast rice.
We discuss the pros and cons of cholesterol-lowering drugs and CoQ10 along with red yeast rice and other non-drug approaches in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health.
Vitamin D deficiency may make statin-induced muscle pain worse. Consider requesting a vitamin D blood test and taking supplements if your level proves low.