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Statins and memory loss.
Old 09-09-2007, 07:11 AM   #1
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Statins and memory loss.

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Interesting article, I have been doing a bunch of research about this, talking to so many older guys in fact even friends who are taking Lipitor and other cholesterol drugs and these guys are like talking to shells. They repeat things forget things. Odd.

Read more than a few articles of major issues here.
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Old 09-09-2007, 07:45 AM   #2
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You think thats bad check out the effects of Statins on ED. DH was put on anti-cholesterol drugs. Cholesterol leveled did go down but we later found it was having it was also affecting his performance. We stopped the drugs, increased physical activity, changed the diet and have had just as much sucess with controling his cholesterol levels, he is well within the normal range. This may not work for everyone but it worked for him.
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Old 09-09-2007, 09:57 AM   #3
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:12 AM   #4
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Statins are like all medications - they have potential risks and benefits and shouldn't be used by anyone when that ratio is unfavorable.

Memory problems including "transient global amnesia" have been reported for years and may not be more common than with placebo. There is no convincing evidence. Does that mean it doesn't occur? Of course not, just that is may be coincidental or idiosyncratic or very uncommon.

Sexual dysfunction: same can be said.

Liver and muscle dysfunction or inflammation: yes, occasionally. Usually reversible if stopped early.

OTOH, in patients who are well selected, the annual risk of heart attack or sudden death is in the range of 1 to 7% per year, depending on all the risk factors. It is lowest for people who are otherwise healthy but have incidental adverse cholesterol profiles, highest for those with a prior heart attack, diabetes, etc. Taking statins reduces that risk by 20-40%, which corresponds to an annual absolute risk reduction of say .4% to 3%. This is annual and cumulative. These benefits are generally much higher than the risks in question for properly selected people.

Home cholesterol monitoring is probably little value. It generates more anxiety than help for many. Even in high risk patients, we check every 6 to 12 months at most. The home machines are of uncertain reliability. The best single predictors are the total:HDL ratio (in the context of appropriate LDL elevations) or - even better - the nonHDL choleseterol which is Total Chol minus the HDL chol. These results are interpreted in the context of family history, other risks, age, gender and so forth. In this way you can determine for whom taking a statin is a sound bet, versus a waste of money.

Finally, there is decent evidence to show a drop in stroke rates from statins, and also suggestive but unproven data about reductions in the incidence of Alzheimers. The jury is still out on the latter.

In any event, lifestyle modification and weight control should always come first. Statins are best reserved for those whose abnormalities persist despite these (occasional) or whose lifestyle efforts and goals are not met long term.

Hope that's helpful.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Statins are like all medications - they have potential risks and benefits and shouldn't be used by anyone when that ratio is unfavorable.

Memory problems including "transient global amnesia" have been reported for years and may not be more common than with placebo. There is no convincing evidence. Does that mean it doesn't occur? Of course not, just that is may be coincidental or idiosyncratic or very uncommon.

Sexual dysfunction: same can be said.

Liver and muscle dysfunction or inflammation: yes, occasionally. Usually reversible if stopped early.

OTOH, in patients who are well selected, the annual risk of heart attack or sudden death is in the range of 1 to 7% per year, depending on all the risk factors. It is lowest for people who are otherwise healthy but have incidental adverse cholesterol profiles, highest for those with a prior heart attack, diabetes, etc. Taking statins reduces that risk by 20-40%, which corresponds to an annual absolute risk reduction of say .4% to 3%. This is annual and cumulative. These benefits are generally much higher than the risks in question for properly selected people.

Home cholesterol monitoring is probably little value. It generates more anxiety than help for many. Even in high risk patients, we check every 6 to 12 months at most. The home machines are of uncertain reliability. The best single predictors are the total:HDL ratio (in the context of appropriate LDL elevations) or - even better - the nonHDL choleseterol which is Total Chol minus the HDL chol. These results are interpreted in the context of family history, other risks, age, gender and so forth. In this way you can determine for whom taking a statin is a sound bet, versus a waste of money.

Finally, there is decent evidence to show a drop in stroke rates from statins, and also suggestive but unproven data about reductions in the incidence of Alzheimers. The jury is still out on the latter.

In any event, lifestyle modification and weight control should always come first. Statins are best reserved for those whose abnormalities persist despite these (occasional) or whose lifestyle efforts and goals are not met long term.

Hope that's helpful.
Rich, thank you. That is very helpful. My doctor put me on Vytorin about a year ago, after considerable weight loss didn't do the trick. Vytorin has brought my cholesterol down markedly (from 248 to 131) and corrected my HDL and LDL as well. Exercise seemed to help too, when it began to slide up a little.

At age 59 I do have some memory lapses (compared with when I was 40), so this thread initially alarmed me a little. But now that I think about it, I was having those memory lapses before Vytorin. I think that for me, it is a matter of just having too much to remember and not really trying very hard to remember those things that I forget. Some things become less important to me as I grow older. If my memory lapses are natural, I really don't mind them so much. I just make a lot of lists.

I am absolutely thrilled to hear that statins may help to prevent some strokes. I saw what happened to my older brother after several severe strokes, and it is heartbreaking.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:46 AM   #6
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Thanks, Rich, for putting these things in perspective. Lots of bad things happen to us as we get older, and some of the bad things may or may not be side effects of statins. But as a heart-disease survivor and as a victem of 4-5 "silent" strokes, I am willing to take my chances on side effects. I have been on Lipitor now for 7 years, and I do have some suspected side effects, but then these side effects are things that I see in almost all men my age (62), so I have no idea whether or not they are directly related to the Lipitor. The only thing I know is that my cholesterol level dropped from 285 to 150 when I went on Lipitor; my family has a history of early-age heart disease; and I will stay on Lipitor as long as the data support the benefits of the drug.
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Old 09-09-2007, 03:43 PM   #7
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I haven't done enough research, but I'm concerned (about my friends at least) who are very overweight and are on 1-3 different wonder medicines and are now beaming because their cholesterol and blood pressure are in acceptable ranges. Are these drugs really going to counteract all the negative effects of obesity? Are we going to be a nation of healthy obese people? Or is this why diabetes is on the rise - people who would have died from heart disease are now living long enough to develop it? Don't get me wrong, I think these drugs are great, my Dad is on one and it lowered his total from 300 to 210ish (not great, but he was cruising for a bruising big time). He has a bit of a pooch, but not bad for someone in his mid 60's, it's small enough to be hidden by a sweater.
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Old 09-09-2007, 03:53 PM   #8
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I haven't done enough research, but I'm concerned (about my friends at least) who are very overweight and are on 1-3 different wonder medicines and are now beaming because their cholesterol and blood pressure are in acceptable ranges. Are these drugs really going to counteract all the negative effects of obesity?
Sleep well Laurence. Most people are noncompliant with diet and exercise, and most are noncompliant with medicines, too. We can count on good old gluttony and denial to assure that there is plenty of diabetes and cardiovascular disease around for a long time to come .

An obese individual whose cholesterol is reduced to normal is at greater risk for heart disease than a nonobese individual whose cholesterol is naturally normal. If nothing else, their obesity and sedentary lifestyle continue to present risks for diabetes, hypertension and many other disorders. And even their cardiovascular risk remains elevated despite the medications, albeit not as much as untreated obese people.

No medicine, no obesity, active lifestyle, normal cholesterol: still the best. Medicines do not eliminate the risks of obestiy and sloth, they just mitigate it some.

I remember when they put fluoride in the water. Everyone said it would put 90% of dentists out of business (they also said it was a communist plot, but that's a whole other thread). There are still plenty of dentists, most of whom live in bigger houses than I do .
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Old 09-09-2007, 06:15 PM   #9
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Also look into statins and depression.
The doctor perscribed lipitor for my high cholestoral. When I started to have thoughts of suicide I started to do some research on the internet and found others who became depressed after taking it.
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Old 09-09-2007, 06:24 PM   #10
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I started to have thoughts of suicide
Oh my, dex!

I know there is some bad information on the internet, but I can't tell you how many times I have repeated to a doctor what I've just "discovered" by doing some reading and he says "oh, okay, then I guess you shouldn't take it". No offense to the fine doctors on this forum (Rich -- love your conservative advice and rational, detailed explanations).

dex, I assume you went back to your doctor and asked for a different med or to come off of it completely? I certainly hope all is well with you now.

The reason why I am interested in this thread is that I have a 2nd blood test coming up 9/13 and I'm pretty sure my doc will want to prescribe Lipitor. All of these potential side effects really make me nervous about taking it.
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Old 09-09-2007, 06:54 PM   #11
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TexasGal,
I stopped taking it after reading about other's problems with it. If anything good come out of it I did learn to appreciate my life a bit more. And it may have directed me into ER earlier. For that I am happy.

If you start taking Lipitor and you find yourself feeling grumpier you should consider what happened to me.
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Old 09-09-2007, 07:07 PM   #12
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Thanks Dex for writing about your experience. And I agree so completely with the quote from Jack Benny.

This thread, despite Rich's helpful information, has not relieved my delimma at all. Having been burned by prescription medications in the past, I am VERY reluctant to take any at all. For example, in the mid-90s I was "depressed" because of my marital problems and took Zoloft. The clinical evidence that Zoloft could cause weight gain wasn't proven yet. So my doctor didn't know/warn me neither did my therapist. Thirty pounds later, I was even more depressed, marriage was even worse, and my life was so much more difficult. Despite what I've done since, I have never been able to lose the 30 pounds. I have to say that this has really affected my life for the worse.

Cholesterol drugs may lower your numbers but if they don't prevent stroke or heart attack unless you combine them with diet and exercise, then why not do the diet and exercise and forget the drugs? Everyone I know who is on these statins has gained weight and cannot lose it.

One question: why don't doctors prescribe niacin anymore? In the summaries of clinical studies I've read it has almost as good a result as the statins.


I'm not perfect with my diet but I do love exercise and maybe eventually I'll get my weight under control. I don't know. In the meantime, I'm not willing to risk adverse side effects that may affect my life adversely, especially if depression is one of them . I will definitely research that one. I don't want to live forever and if my life is cut short because I didn't take Lipitor or some other drugs then so be it.
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Old 09-10-2007, 12:59 AM   #13
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Didn't RazzTazz have his liver badly affected by statins? Anyone considering Lipitor might want to read some of his old posts on the subject.

I'm under the impression that cholesterol by itself, in the absence of other risk factors, isn't much of an issue. I used to have mandatory annual Navy physicals, including cholesterol levels, so I have over 20 years of history between 180-220. I even spreadsheeted the data and stuck a graph in my retiree's medical record. However the civilian doctor, undoubtedly rushed and by reflex, took one look at the latest number (212) and launched the Lipitor lecture plus advocated an active lifestyle.

This knee-jerk attitude, coupled with my diet and physical activities, has inspired me to stop worrying about my cholesterol levels.

When I was on active duty some of the more "manipulative" shipmates would deal with the blood test by eating a large carb breakfast beforehand. Rumor was that eating (instead of fasting for 12 hours) would drive all the numbers down for a false "good" result.

Zoloft: vitamin Z, AKA submariner candy. I probably had 10-20% of my shipmates on it at any time. Many of them dealt with the fatigue & weight gain by taking up smoking...
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Old 09-10-2007, 05:32 AM   #14
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First let me state that I am not a doctor. But, I have done some research on this issue, through not specifically statins and memory loss. What I have found is that high doses of vitamin C can lower cholesterol levels. It is difficult to find a doctor that is open-minded enough to agree with this, but they are out there. Here is one link about Vitamin C therapy and it’s cholesterol lowering benefits http://www.internetwks.com/owen/HeartCure.htm

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Old 09-10-2007, 07:21 AM   #15
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There has to be a different way. Lets think about what the diet was back 100 or 200 years ago. Fine people died earlier infections no antibiotics. But there was no heart disease. It must be the stress, the food processed, and less exercise. So a drug company comes up with a so called wonder drug. Hummm.

I still think the bottom line is that you have to be proactive in our society today when it comes to food and what we eat. There is So much food available, so much processed stuff that causes an increase in all types of bad things that can go wrong in our arteries. The stress put on our bodies thru work and other related issues with being alive in 2007 does not help. Funny tracking my cholesterol levels over a 15 year period we have gone from lows in the 180 range to near 235, HDL near 40 to near 65 Ldl 125 to 165 and it all depends on the time of the year the tests were given Cholesterol numbers for me always are higher in the winter months than summer, I can always tell if I had some CHEESCAKE or high cream foods when my numbers are higher. Oh Triglicerides are always below 80 heck I have had a low of 60. I am running 8 to 10 miles a day now at the age of 51 and my new cardiologist says well maybe I should go on lipitor because the new test is total cholesterol 230, hdl 60 ldl 155 trig 88. And I tell him what? I don't think so. I take fish oil, I eat a crazy healthy diet and exercise the heck out of my body.

What is the statistical significance of people taking statins to heart disease and heart attacks?? Very low cholesterol has its own issues, strokes in japan the issues with memory muscle issues. I will take my chances with a healthy vegetarian, fish lean meat low processed food diet and keep running 60 miles a week and living a much less stressful life being early retired. Oh and restricting calories meaning eating less. Oh and only drinking premium alcohol in moderation. Good wine, great ports single malt whisky, great tequilla and good crafted beer. Oh and never smoking. Well maybe some fine sensemilla.......oh wait that is still illegal.
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:28 AM   #16
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Zoloft: vitamin Z, AKA submariner candy. I probably had 10-20% of my shipmates on it at any time. Many of them dealt with the fatigue & weight gain by taking up smoking...
Nords: Interesting! What I learned is that after a while Zoloft ends up lowering dopamine levels, causing fatigue, so that people take up smoking to kick it back up. (Caffeine raises dopamine). Weird that people end up using the substance they need even though they don't understand their chemically-induced motivation.

Billy: thanks for the info on Vit. C. I will look that up.
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:59 AM   #17
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There has to be a different way. Lets think about what the diet was back 100 or 200 years ago. Fine people died earlier infections no antibiotics. But there was no heart disease. It must be the stress, the food processed, and less exercise.
Funny thing, I was just reading about advances in public health over the last hundred years. Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases
You will see that heart disease was the number 4 killer 100 years ago, after pneumonia, TB, and diarrhea/enteritis. Today, none of those are big killers and heart disease is number 1. Interesting to read too how many died before the age of 5.
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Old 09-10-2007, 12:13 PM   #18
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Zoloft: vitamin Z, AKA submariner candy. I probably had 10-20% of my shipmates on it at any time. Many of them dealt with the fatigue & weight gain by taking up smoking...
Vitamin Z is also lawyer candy, with a greater number than the average population on antidepressants.

Roughly 10% of women and 4% of men are on antidepressants. N C H S - 2004 News Release - Almost Half of Americans Use at Least One Prescription Drug Annual Report on Nation's Health Shows

I have read somewhere that about 12 million people in the US are on statins. About 4 %? Not really that big of a number.
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Old 09-10-2007, 12:16 PM   #19
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It'd be nice if there were something like antibiotics to wipe out heart disease. What a great drug: antibiotics disrupt bacterial cells without much impact on human cells.

Statins and most other modern drugs, on the other hand, act on all sorts of different human systems. They call them "side effects," but that's not how the drug would see it.
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Old 09-10-2007, 12:38 PM   #20
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Caffeine raises dopamine.
Well, I'll brew another pot and drink to that!
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