Millions of Americans are taking medicine to lower their blood levels of cholesterol. Every day you see news stories, magazine articles, and television advertising that speak of the dangers of high LDL (bad) cholesterol and the importance of getting these levels as low as possible. In fact, the world’s best selling medicine is the cholesterol lowering medication, Lipitor. Other drugs in the same class of “statins” designed to lower cholesterol include Zocor, Vytorin, Crestor, Pravachol, Lescol and Mevacor, the latter also available as the generic, lovastatin.
One of the side effects many people have heard about is the muscles aches and weakness that sometimes occur with the “statin” class of drugs. If you experience muscle aches or weakness that are not a result of overuse, you should notify your doctor immediately so he or she can rule out more a serious, but very rare condition such as rhabdomyolysis. This condition causes the muscles to leak so much protein that it damages the kidneys leading to kidney failure. The vast majority of the patients with muscle aches and weakness in my practice do not have any indications of rhabdomyolysis. In fact, it is so rare that I have never personally seen a case caused by statin drugs in 25 years as a doctor. When a patient discontinues their “statin”, the muscle aches quickly disappear.
There is ample evidence to suggest that many of the muscle related side effects of the statin class could be a result of a statin-induced deficiency in Coenzyme Q10. When you inhibit the production of cholesterol, you also inhibit the production of Coenzyme Q 10. Because CoQ-10 is found in every cell in your body, including muscles like your heart, it is a critical ingredient in the production of energy in your cells. It is what is called an “essential nutrient”. If you have a deficiency of CoQ-10, you are threatening your overall health, and more specifically, your cardiovascular health.
Supplements of Coenzyme Q10 have been shown to reduce or prevent many of the muscle related side effects of the statins or other drugs. CoQ-10 supplements have also shown to benefit one’s health when combined with many different treatment regimens for conditions like congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, gum disease, and even before surgery to improve healing and recovery.
Your doctor can run blood tests for your levels of CoQ-10, such as those offered by Spectracell Laboratories. Alternatively, due to the benefits shown in many different studies, you can find a good quality CoQ-10 supplement to add to your treatment regimen for hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes. Since statins and other drugs used to lower cholesterol may have other potential nutritional side effects, consider a supplement that was specifically designed to replace those nutrients that are impacted by specific medications.