New Study Shows Using Statins Actually Worsens Your Heart Function

heart medicineA study found that statin drugs are associated with decreased myocardial (heart muscle) function.

Statin use is known to be associated with myopathy, muscle weakness and rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of muscle fiber contents into the bloodstream. For the study, myocardial function was evaluated in 28 patients.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The majority of people who use statin cholesterol-lowering drugs are doing so because they believe lowering their cholesterol will prevent heart attacks and strokes. How many of these people do you think would continue to take them if they knew these very same drugs have been linked to decreased heart muscle function and increased risk of stroke?

No one in their right mind?

The truth is, the usefulness of statin drugs has received tough scrutiny in recent months, and that scrutiny is well deserved.  Take this study in Clinical Cardiology. It found that heart muscle function was "significantly better" in the control group than in those taking statin drugs! The researchers concluded:

"Statin therapy is associated with decreased myocardial [heart muscle] function."

What's often the end result when your heart muscle function is weakened or decreased? Heart failure!

How Statins May Actually Cause Heart Failure

The Clinical Cardiology study did not address causes, but it's widely known that statins lower your CoQ10 levels by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production -- the same pathway by which Q10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage your mitochondrial DNA, effectively setting into motion an evil circle of increasing free radicals and mitochondrial damage.

There are no official warnings in the U.S. regarding CoQ10 depletion from taking statin drugs, and many physicians fail to inform you about this problem as well. Labeling in Canada, however, clearly warns of CoQ10 depletion and even notes that this nutrient deficiency "could lead to impaired cardiac function in patients with borderline congestive heart failure."

As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure, so it is imperative if you take statin drugs that you take CoQ10 or, if you are over the age of 40, the reduced version called ubiquinol.

Statins Fail Miserably at Heart Attack Prevention

Originally, statin drugs were prescribed for secondary prevention, meaning the prevention of a second heart attack or stroke if you'd already suffered one and had clear signs of heart disease. But today a majority of people taking the drugs are doing so for primary prevention, i.e. "preventive medicine" -- to help prevent people with certain risk factors of heart disease -- although otherwise healthy -- from having a heart attack or stroke in the first place.

This switch came largely as the result of the JUPITER study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008.

It boasted that statin drugs could lower the risk of heart attack by 54 percent, the risk of stroke by 48 percent, the risk of needing angioplasty or bypass surgery by 46 percent, and the risk of death from all causes by 20 percent.

As you might suspect, the funding for this study came from none other than Astra-Zeneca, the maker of statin drug Crestor -- and once again, we find that industry-funded claims of health benefits for highly profit-producing drugs need to be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Two years after the original study came out; three articles were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, refuting the claims laid down by the industry-funded JUPITER study.

One of these studies titled Cholesterol lowering, cardiovascular diseases, and the rosuvastatin-JUPITER controversy: a critical reappraisal, carefully reviewed the methods and the results of the JUPITER trial and concluded that the trial was flawed and the results "do not support the use of statin treatment for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases …"

In addition, a second study, a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials, found no evidence to back up the JUPITER trial claim that statins can reduce your risk of death when used as primary prevention against heart disease.

Increased Risk of Stroke, Serious Side Effects

Statin drugs are frequently prescribed like candy for tens of millions of Americans, but you need to think long and hard before deciding to take your physician up on this prescription, as they have very real, and very steep risks, and they are NOT right, nor safe, for everyone. Case in point, a new study found that statin drugs actually increase your risk of having a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain if you've already had one before. Among such patients, the risk of a second stroke was 22 percent in those who took statins compared with 14 percent in those who did not.

There are two reasons why this might happen: the drugs may either lower your cholesterol too much, to the point that it increases your risk of brain bleeding, or they may affect clotting factors in your blood, increasing the bleeding risk.

You can see 71 diseases that may be associated with these drugs, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are actually over 900 studies showing the risks of statin drugs, which include:

Cognitive loss Neuropathy Anemia
Acidosis Frequent fevers Cataracts
Sexual dysfunction An increase in cancer risk Pancreatic dysfunction
Immune system suppression Serious degenerative muscle tissue condition (rhabdomyolysis) Hepatic dysfunction. (Due to the potential increase in liver enzymes, patients must be monitored for normal liver function)

Oftentimes statins do not have any immediate side effects, and they are quite effective, capable of lowering cholesterol levels by 50 points or more. This makes it appear as though they're benefiting your health, and health problems that appear down the line are frequently not interpreted as a side effect of the drug, but rather as brand new, separate health problems.

But there's an ever-growing body of evidence showing that potentially serious side effects begin to manifest several months after the commencement of therapy. Further, according to a review published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, adverse effects are dose dependent, and your health risks are also amplified by a number of factors, such as: 

High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial problems, so if you have either of these conditions your risk of statin complications increases. Additionally, since statins can cause progressive damage to your mitochondria over time, and your mitochondria tend to weaken with age anyway, new adverse effects can develop the longer you're on the drug.

Are You Taking a Statin for No Reason?

For certain individuals who are at very high risk of dying from a heart attack, statin drugs may be useful -- but this is only true if you have strong heart attack risk factors (NOT if you simply have "high" cholesterol levels). It is important to note that it is also not necessary for you to remain on the drug for the rest of your life. Once your cholesterol ratios have been optimized by a course of treatment on statins, you can safely go off them if you have changed your diet..So, odds are very high -- greater than 100 to 1 -- that if you're taking a statin, you don't really need it.

The only two subgroups that might benefit are:

  • Those at very high risk of heart attack (based NOT on your cholesterol levels but on your heart attack risk factors)
  • Those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes you resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol

If you are not in one of those two categories, statin drugs are an unnecessary health risk you're better off avoiding -- and you definitely want to avoid the trap of taking them to lower your cholesterol when your cholesterol is actually well within a healthy range.

I have seen a number of people with total cholesterol levels over 250 who were actually at low risk for heart disease due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen many people with cholesterol levels under 200 who had a very high risk of heart disease, based on their low HDL.

Further, if you take statin drugs unnecessarily, there's a good chance your cholesterol levels will become too low, which is dangerous since your body NEEDS cholesterol -- it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function.

There is also strong evidence that having too little cholesterol INCREASES your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson's disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior – so keeping your cholesterol high enough is important.

Do You Want to Optimize Your Cholesterol?

The goal of the tips below is not to necessarily lower your cholesterol as low as it can go; the goal is to optimize your levels so they're working in the proper balance with your body.

Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol. This is why my primary strategies for optimizing your cholesterol have to do with modifying your diet and lifestyle:

  • Reduce fructose, grains and sugars in your diet. It is especially important to eliminate dangerous sugars such as fructose, which is found in soda and most processed foods. If your HDL/Cholesterol ratio is abnormal and needs to be improved it would also serve you well to additionally eliminate fruits from your diet, as that is also a source of fructose.

    Once your cholesterol improves you can gradually reintroduce fruits at levels that don't raise your cholesterol.
  • Consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of krill per day may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
  • Eat the right foods for your nutritional type. Examples of heart-healthy foods and fats include olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats as appropriate for your nutritional type.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate Peak Fitness exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.