confused older man, anticholinergic load

The FDA has just updated its warnings on cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. These include Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), Livalo (pitavastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin), as well as the combination products Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release) and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe).

For years, some patients have been complaining of memory difficulties while they are taking statin drugs to lower their cholesterol. Many find that their brain function returns to normal within a few days or weeks of stopping the drug, but some suffer for a very long time after discontinuation. The FDA has now acknowledged that these drugs can have cognitive side effects; the agency warns patients not to discontinue the drug on their own, but to consult with their health care professionals.

In addition, the feds are alerting patients taking a statin that their risk of type 2 diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes) is increased. The FDA believes that “the heart benefit of statins outweighs this small increased risk.” Patients who are already struggling with blood sugar control, however, might well wish to discuss this with their health care providers. There are other ways to control cholesterol that do not raise blood sugar levels.

We have been receiving reports of serious muscle and memory problems linked to statins for decades. We have tried repeatedly to get the FDA’s attention about these complications but have been met with a great deal of resistance….until now. For almost a decade we have been warning that statins might raise blood sugar in susceptible individuals. At long last the FDA seems to have caught up with the wisdom of our readers and visitors to this website. If you would like to read more about statin side effects check out this link.

For more information on these problems from statins, readers may want to check our book, Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy, in which we discuss a number of statin side effects and alternative ways to get cholesterol down. It is more relevant today than when we wrote it a few years ago. There is also a chapter on diabetes and non-drug ways that can help control blood sugar.

The FDA urges patients and physicians to report negative side effects of statin drugs to its MedWatch program. We also suggest that you report your experience with cognitive and memory problems below. If you have had more trouble controlling your blood sugar while taking a statin-type drug we would also like to hear from you.

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  1. David
    NC - North Carolina

    Part of the problem with statin side effects is that physicians simply
    hold to the position that the side effects go with the territory. The
    memory loss is a moot pont since they don’t have that problem nor
    would most take statins. Removal of the protective cholesterol from
    the neurons have long been understood to short circuit tramsmitters
    remove needed cholesterol from arteries climaxed by the knowledge
    that cholesterol is NOT the root cause of heart attacks the culprit
    being inflamation and migrating bacteria trapping cholesterol in a
    secondary poor diameter coronary network. I have experianced memoryloss on several occassions somewhat improved by half dosing. A Congresssional investigation is emergently needed to end this insanity!

  2. Deb

    My mother had memory issues taking Zocor that mimicked dementia in the Fall of 2014 to early 2015. She would repeat the same question and not recognize that she was told the same response only moments before. Even when told that she was not retaining the information, she would deny having heard that before. She couldn’t recall how to prepare food for herself that she had cooked her whole life, so she bought frozen items.

    She was taken off the Zocor, and within a short amount of time she was back to completely normal. In August of 2015 she was put back on Zocor at a lower dose. This time the symptoms have come back and are even more extreme. She had an incident of confusion where she realized she was about to urinate in her hamper in the bathroom instead of the toilet. She has also said things that are both out of character and very harsh to another daughter, and has no memory of that happening. She has asked multiple times what she said, and eventually wrote it down to be able to read what happened because she could not retain the memory of what happened for more than a few minutes. Her doctor has told her to stop taking the medication, which she has at this point. She has been off the medication for four days now.

  3. steve

    All the statins are broken down in the liver using specific enzymatic systems, often the Cytochrome 3A4 system. Body chemistry is different among different people and some have robust 3A4 systems and others don’t. Further if you take a med that utilizes the same enzymatic system you overwhelm it. The result is simple-the blood level of both meds get higher and higher causing toxicity. If very high the muscles are affected in a process called rhabdomyolysis.

    “The dose is the poison,” is an old and wise saying. Looking at the pharmokinetics of statins one sees that a tiny dose packs the biggest punch, yet often people are put on high doses. You’d think that if a dose (using rosuvastatin) of 2.5 mg reduces ldl 46% (these are rough guesses only for comparison) that using a dose of 10 mg would have a tremendous effect but it does not. My take: If you take statins take the lowest effective dose and make sure that each of your meds do not compete with the same enzymatic system (ask your pharmacist to check–they will but probably only if you ask). I think that many of the problems are dose or competing medication related.

  4. david

    Took CRESTOR and suffered massive muscle depletion. Came off them, but muscles are still weak. Went onto Lipitor, and now off that too, as I have had memory and thinking problems… Very frustrating…. Statins cause more problems than they help, and I don’t believe cholesterol has anything to do with heart attacks and strokes.

  5. kanzan

    At you high cholesterol level I would be very concerned, are you on a near vegan diet? Lots of medical studies support this for heart health, see the China Study for an good read.

  6. PJ

    Well it is Sept. 2013 and I am one of those statin users with almost all the side effects you can imagine. Cramps in legs, hands, fingers. Memory loss so bad my family became worried I needed to be put somewhere to get help. They thought I was going crazy for real! And so did I for the longest time. Those missing moments when I did not know how I got across the street or to the store. I just sat in the car and there is was. Frightening not to know you blacked out mentally but physically I made all the right moves in the car and made my destinations.
    Here’s the deal, screw the drugs. They also gave me pre-diabetes, higher cholesterol, aching bones and pain and arthritis. My doctor did take off for two weeks for the cramping. Big deal. Then what. I am seeking a nutritionist and approaching this whole health thing from a different perspective. Live healthy, live long. Good luck to you all. You must be your own advocate and talk loud and clear that this is your body and you want all the information or no deal. Take you health back.

  7. Beverly Kurtin, Ph.D.

    My doctors keep trying to get me to take statins, but I am adamant that I will not take them. There is no good reason for me to take them as my cholesterol is only marginally higher than they think it should be. However, OUR BODIES CREATE CHOLESTEROL. It drives me up a wall how WRONG the doctors et al have been about just about everything.
    Eating fat used to be though to contribute to our being fat. Nope, they were wrong, it is an excess of CARBOHYDRATES that cause obesity, not by eating fats. Eggs were demonized for years, now it is okay to eat as many of them as one wants.
    Cigarettes… well, they were right on about them. I stopped smoking cold turkey. I was laying on a gurney, having my first heart attack, when a voice asked if I smoked. I moaned, “No, I quit.” When asked how long it had been that I had quit I said that I didn’t know when, what TIME was it?
    That was in 1993 and I’ve not had one since. Recently an old friend of mine died because he refused to stop smoking. He had been found to have pancreatic cancer about 1/8″ in diameter. It could have been CURED! Because he had COPD from smoking for 40 years or more, the anesthesiologist would not put him to sleep because he could not guarantee that he could wake him up. Rather than stop, he kept smoking up to the day when he checked into hospice. They made him stop, but it was WAY too late. His cancer had “moved” to his stomach and liver. He refused to believe that cancer could spread the way it did. Neither he nor Steve Jobs had the brains of a toad.
    I think statins should be outlawed. I was one of the patients on a trial of Crestor and it damned near killed me, yet my old doctor (I fired him because he insisted that I HAD to take statins) could not believe that statins and I did not get along.
    Such is life.

  8. crandreww
    Dr Duane Graveline discussing the Permance of Some Statin induced injuries, such as Myopathy, Neuropathy, the lack of any significant improvement on my Brain MRI scans from almost 10 years ago…Brain Biopsy revealed Mutated Mitochondria something which I have not found to be irreversible as of yet, It is next to impossible to find any published data, which criticizes statin drugs…but when I do come across more, I will certainly post it.

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