I came across this article on statin drug use and excessive fatigue. If you are taking statin drugs and feel fatigued you should contact your doctor. Please enjoy.
Study links statins
to excessive fatigue
By Susan Perry | 06/12/12
Widely prescribed statins like Lipitor may
reduce overall energy levels in patients.
There have been many reports of statins
— drugs used to lower cholesterol — causing excessive fatigue. No randomized controlled study (the gold standard of clinical trials)
had examined, however, whether the link between statins and fatigue was real.
Until now. On Monday, the results of a
randomized trial that studied the effect of moderate doses of statins on energy
levels and exertion fatigue were published online in the Archives of
The study found that people who take statins are more likely
than those not using the drugs to experience an increase in fatigue after mild
physical exertion and/or an overall decrease in energy.
“These findings are important, given the
central relevance of energy and functional status to well-being,” the authors
of the study conclude. Doctors and patients should consider fatigue when
weighing the risks and benefits of statins, the authors add, particularly when
the drugs are being prescribed for primary
prevention — in other words, to people who have high cholesterol but
no history of heart disease.
Some background: About 25 percent of
Americans aged 45 and older are currently taking statins. Among people who have
previously had a heart attack or stroke, statins can be a lifesaver, reducing
the risk of dying within the next five years by as much as a third, according
But many other people — those who have risk
factors like high cholesterol but no personal history or symptoms of heart
disease — are also prescribed statins. This use is highly controversial, as many studies have shown that statins
do very little, if anything, to prevent heart attack or stroke when used in
otherwise healthy people.
Previously identified health risks associated
with statins include muscle pain or weakness (in about 5 percent of people who
take the drugs) and diabetes. Research suggests that for every 167 people who
take statins for five years, one person will develop diabetes.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug
Administration added another potential side effect to its safety alert
regarding statins: cognitive problems, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and
The current fatigue-related study, which
was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of California, San
Diego, recruited 1,016 people (692 men, 324 women) aged 20 and older. All had
elevated low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), the so-called “bad” cholesterol, but
were otherwise in generally good health. None had heart disease or diabetes.
The participants were randomized to receive
either a placebo or one of two statins at moderate-level doses: pravastin
(Pravochol) at 40 milligrams or simvastain (Zocor) at 20 milligrams. According
to a UCSD press release, the researchers said the doses of these
two statins would be similar to that expected with atorvastin (Lipitor) at 10
milligrams or rosuvastatin (Crestor) at 2.5 to 5 milligrams.
The study was double-blinded, which means
both the participants and the people conducting the study did not know who was
getting the placebo or the drugs.
The study ran for six months. Participants
rated their “energy” and “fatigue with exertion” at the start of the study and
again at its end, using a five-point scale that ranged from “much worse” to
The study found that participants on
statins were significantly more likely than those on placebo to report at the
study’s end that their energy levels had worsened and that they were
experiencing greater fatigue after physical exertion. The effects were stronger
in women and among people given simvastatin (which also was found in this study
to lead to a greater decrease in cholesterol levels).
Of the women in the simvastatin arm of the
study, for example, 4 of 10 cited worsening in either energy or exertion
fatigue. Two in 10 said either both symptoms were “worse” or one was “much
worse,” while 1 in 10 said both were “much worse.”
Although the study didn’t ask participants
whether the decrease in energy caused them to be less physically active, that
is, of course, a possibility — and a concern. Regular exercise has been linked
to a long list of health benefits, including a reduction in
cholesterol and a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.
As the authors of the study point out,
their findings are based on relatively small numbers and, thus, should be
considered provisional. Additional studies are needed. Those studies must be
long-term, they add, because the side effects of statins — like their benefits
— may take some time to develop. Such studies are particularly important, they
point out, if the use of statins for primary prevention is to be expanded to
include a broader (and younger) group of people, as some doctors are
“Meanwhile,” the authors advise,
“physicians should be alert to patients’ reports of exertional fatigue or
diminished energy during statin use.”
We all have heard that red meat should be limited in our diet, new research reinforces this fact. I hope you enjoy this article.
More support for passing on the red meat
By Genevra Pittman | Reuters – 23 mins ago
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People
who eat a lot of red meat are more likely to
die at any given time than those who go light on the burgers and hot dogs, a
new study suggests.
Researchers found that the more
servings of processed or unprocessed red meat people reported eating daily, the
higher their chance of dying over more than a 20-year span.
“Red meat and especially processed
red meat contains a lot of compounds and chemicals that have been linked to
chronic disease risk,” said Dr. Frank Hu,
one of the study’s authors from the Harvard School
of Public Health — and cooking red meat produces more carcinogens.
Research has suggested that the
saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat is linked to plaque buildup in the
arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease. Eating more meat was
associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer in another recent study (see
Reuters Health story of December 28, 2011).
Hu and his colleagues used data from
two large, ongoing studies of U.S. doctors and nurses who filled out regular
questionnaires about their typical eating habits as well as physical activity,
smoking and family history.
The current report includes
information from about 38,000 middle-aged men followed for an average of 22
years after their first survey and 84,000 women tracked for 28 years.
The lightest meat eaters reported getting half a serving or less of meat per
day, while the study’s biggest meat-lovers had red meat twice or three times
Three ounces of unprocessed meat,
one hot dog or two slices of bacon was counted as a serving.
About 24,000 study participants died
over the two-plus decades that researchers followed them. Hu and his team
calculated that the chance of dying was 12 percent higher for every extra
serving of red meat the men and women had eaten each day.
Each extra serving was also tied to
a 16 percent higher chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, in particular,
and a 10 percent higher chance of dying from cancer.
That was after taking into account
other aspects of health and lifestyle that could influence participants’
chances of dying, like weight and smoking, as well as the rest of their diet
and various socioeconomic factors.
Substituting one daily serving of
red meat with fish, poultry, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy products or whole
grains was tied to a seven to 19 percent lower chance of death, Hu and his
colleagues reported Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
“The results are not really
surprisingly given that previous studies have found consumption of red meat is
linked to diabetes, heart disease and
certain cancers,” Hu told Reuters Health.
“What’s surprising is the
magnitude… Even a small amount of red meat is associated with a significantly
increased risk of mortality,” he added.
Hu said that it’s probably a
combination of chemicals and compounds that are found in red meat, including
saturated fat, cholesterol and lots of salt — especially in processed meat — that account for increased
health risks in meat-eaters, although his study can’t prove a cause-and-effect
Though he doesn’t necessarily
recommend everyone drop their burgers at once, Hu said it’s not a bad idea to
try to cut back on red meat, given this and other evidence of its
less-than-stellar health record.
“We’re not talking about
everyone becoming a vegetarian — I think a small amount of red meat is still
okay as part of a healthy diet,” he said.
“We’re talking about no more
than two or three servings of red meat a week. Basically, red meat should be an
occasional part of our diet and not a regular part of our diet.”
Archives of Internal Medicine, online March 12, 2012.
Could Getting More Fiber Help You Live Longer?
Getting enough fiber—and the right kind—may prevent early death
By ANGELA HAUPT , KATHERINE HOBSON
Posted: February 14, 2011
Hear fiber and you probably think of bran cereal, which doesn’t exactly make you salivate. But new research suggests more fiber could equal more years. Analyzing data from nearly 400,000 men and women ages 50 to 71, researchers found that those who consumed the most fiber were 22 percent less likely to die from any cause during the nine years they were studied. Men were 24 to 56 percent and women 34 to 59 percent less likely to die of heart and infectious or respiratory diseases, according to findings from the National Institutes of Health’s AARP Diet and Health Study, published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Why fiber reduces the risk of early death is unclear. Perhaps it’s because fiber lowers levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, improves blood glucose levels, reduces inflammation, and binds to potential cancer-causing agents, helping to flush them out of the body, says lead author Yikyung Park, a staff scientist at the National Cancer Institute.
What is clear, however, is that participants only benefited when fiber came from grains, like oatmeal, cornmeal, and brown rice. Fiber from fruits, vegetables, and beans had no impact on death risk. “Whole grains are rich sources of fiber, but also good sources of vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals that may provide health benefits,” Park says. And grains have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties—another reason researchers say grain fiber is beneficial.
Clearly, “all fibers are not created equal,” cautions James Anderson, an endocrinologist at the University of Kentucky-Lexington. “Different fibers have different properties.” And while the latest study emphasizes grain fiber, past studies have found that fiber from fruits and vegetables can benefit heart health.
Here’s a field guide to fiber sources:
Soluble fiber: Foods high in soluble fiber, so called because of its ability to dissolve readily in liquids—include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries, and apple pulp, according to the American Heart Association. Soluble fibers have been linked to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol. Viscous fibers found in foods like oat bran and beans seem to work particularly well because they form a gel in the gut that slows down fat formation and absorption, says Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and author of the American Dietetic Association’s 2008 position paper on dietary fiber. (The Food and Drug Administration allows heart disease health claims for oats, barley, and psyllium, the fiber found in Metamucil.) Soluble fibers also regulate blood glucose levels, says Anderson. But most soluble fibers, except psyllium, don’t have the laxative effects that many people associate with fiber, so don’t rely on them for that purpose.
Insoluble fiber: High levels of insoluble fiber, too, have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease—perhaps through other mechanisms. So while there’s an ongoing debate over which types of fiber confer which heart-protective benefits, the take-home is that no one should rely solely on soluble fibers to get the maximal heart benefit. The AHA lists whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, wheat bran, cabbage, beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, and apple skin as foods high in this type of fiber. Unlike soluble fiber, it doesn’t dissolve in liquids or form a gel but instead passes through the digestive tract pretty much unchanged. Because insoluble fiber hustles things along in the digestive tract, it’s also a good source of relief if you’re constipated. In addition, insoluble fiber (and to some extent, the soluble kind) may help you feel fuller and possibly help weight control.
Resistant starch and others: The starch products not digested in the small intestine “fit the newer definitions of fiber,” says Slavin. They’re found in legumes as well as starches like potatoes, pasta, and rice that have been cooked and cooled (as in potato or pasta salad, or sushi), and barely ripe bananas. And they’re also being added to foods to increase fiber content without affecting taste, as well as to reduce caloric density; a product called Hi-maize, for example, is added to pastas and energy bars. In addition, resistant starch is a “prebiotic” that, when fermented in the large intestine, increases beneficial bacteria, says Hope Warshaw, a nutritionist and author of the Real-Life Guide to Diabetes. (She’s also a consultant to National Starch, the maker of Hi-maize.) It doesn’t, however, seem to have the cardiovascular effects of other soluble fibers, says Anderson.
This article was originally published on 5/5/2009. It has been updated.