- High cholesterol is a health hazard that a lot of us may suffer at some point in our lives.
- Statins has revolutionised the way high cholesterol is managed. However, it does come with drawbacks and side effects.
- Understanding how statins affect you will help you address the side effects associated with its use.
Even with the best efforts of a healthy diet and exercise, some of us may still suffer from elevated cholesterol levels at some point in your life. It isn’t something to feel ashamed about and it isn’t the end of the world.
Statins are the mainstay of managing high cholesterol. Statins are effective and without major side effects. Nonetheless, they do have side effects and we discuss how statins work, what problems it may cause and how you can address them.
Why is high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) bad for you?
Cholesterol in itself is not bad. In fact it’s crucial to the structural stability of your cells. Essentially, your cells cease to exist if there was no cholesterol. High cholesterol levels in your blood, particularly low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) increases your chances of developing heart disease and stroke. This is because LDL-C tends to clump and stick to the walls of arteries, clogging and hardening your blood vessels.
How do you manage high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is one of the easiest conditions to manage, thanks to the discovery of statins. Statins were discovered in the mid-1980s, first derived from a strain of mould. The compound was found to effectively lower LDL-C in humans, with relatively few side effects. Statins act on a cellular level, preventing your body from making cholesterol. It is important to know that statins are not the only cholesterol drugs out there. Niacin (a B-vitamin) and cholesterol blockers are often used in combination with statins.
Should I take statins?
This is a discussion you should have with your doctor. But current recommendations advocate statins be given to people at high risk of heart disease. These risks include:
- existing heart disease
- an LDL-C of 190 mg/dL or higher
- age between 40-75 with type 2 diabetes
- a history of high blood pressure or stroke
If you’ve got borderline high cholesterol, you shouldn’t be prescribed statins. Dietary changes and exercise is your best protection against heart disease.
Side effects associated with long-term statin use?
Yes, there are associated side effects. Obviously, you don’t self-prescribe statins and you should be talking to your doctor if you develop any side effects. Side effects range from extremely mild to more serious ones that require you to stop using statins. Here are some common ones:
- sore throat
- a runny or blocked nose
- feeling sick
- digestive system issues, such as constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or flatulence
- muscle and joint pain
- increased blood sugar level
- increased risk of diabetes
Other effects statins have on the body?
Statins appear to cause a Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) deficiency in the blood. Studies have found that low CoQ10 levels caused by statins, are associated with a wide range of diseases. Since CoQ10 is found in heart muscle cells, a deficiency is linked to cardiovascular problems including angina, arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure.
A deficiency is also linked to problems with blood sugar regulation, gum health, and stomach ulcers. Those who take statins are at particular risk for deficiency, because not only do statins reduce cholesterol levels, but also block CoQ10 production. Low CoQ10 levels can also contribute to the side effects of taking statins such as fatigue and, aching joints and muscles. One thing most people don’t realise is CoQ10 are compounds transported by your blood cholesterol. Since CoQ10 is an antioxidant it works to keep your LDL-C in a form that doesn’t harm your body.
Research suggests that statins appear to reduce vitamin K2 levels. Vitamin K2 is known to protect your arteries from hardening, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Indirectly, by depleting vitamin K2 statins appear to increase your chances of cardiovascular disease. Statin users are more likely to suffer from muscle conditions like myalgia, muscle weakness, muscle cramps and autoimmune muscle disease. Essentially, this is caused by statin’s interference with certain enzymes in the body. These enzymes prevent muscle inflammation and act as antioxidants. Statins in effect, promote free radical proliferation.Statins also increase your risk of diabetes. Statins reduce the effectiveness of insulin hormones, which means you’re less able to control your blood sugar. They also prevent your liver from making cholesterol which then ironically, raises your blood sugar.
What can I do?
Considering giving up statins for good? Think again! If you’ve been taking statins for a long time, you shouldn’t change your dosage without talking to your doctor first. Any sudden change to your statin routine could harm your health.
Since CoQ10 is essential to your body, you can easily address the deficiency. CoQ10 supplementation is a wise choice to offset that shortfall. It is safe and doesn’t interfere with your statins. And do we have something for you! How about trying our CoQ10 Ubiquinol 100mg Softgel? It’s a more potent form of CoQ10 and will help protect your heart, not to mention it is also an antioxidant. Feeling lethargic and achy from taking statins? CoQ10 gives you more energy and zest to do the things you want to do!
So, you shouldn’t rush to flush statins down the toilet. If you’re at high-risk of heart disease or have multiple risk factors, you should stay the course. However, taking statins isn’t your license to sit on your bottom and eat mindlessly. It’s part of a lifetime commitment to be healthy. If you don’t take your health seriously, who will?