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Cholesterol, Statins, and CoQ10

By Bob Reece

First the given: that statin drugs such as Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, Advicor, Crestor, and Baychol do lower cholesterol (Baychol was voluntarily removed from the market after some 112 deaths being attributed to it).  However as with all pharmacological agents, drugs often have a dark side with serious consequences to health.  Adverse effects in this case include liver damage, muscle inflammation, tiredness, gastrointestinal symptoms, rashes, blurred vision and memory loss.  The plot thickens.

Statin drugs are also known to cause myopathy which is a weakening of the muscles – as found in cardio-myopathy.  And cardio-myopathy a primary cause of congestive heart failure.

Statin drugs effectively cause the liver to quit producing cholesterol, causing levels to drop.  However the liver also manufactures Coenzyme Q10 (C0Q10) which is absolutely essential for the body to produce energy.  But by also blocking this vital source of energy, there can be disastrous consequences to health.

The most sinister effect of statins however, is that these drugs also block the liver’s ability to  produce CoQ10.  And CoQ10 deficiencies and heart failure go hand in glove.  With heart attacks increasing at ever faster numbers, Julian Whitaker, MD and numerous studies have suggested that the CoQ10  deficiencies caused by the increasing reliance on statin drugs, may be the main culprit (largely responsible).

CoQ10 is absolutely essential and it is proven that statin drugs deplete the body of CoQ10 by as much as 40 percent, slowly but surely draining the batteries that fuel the heart and other muscle groups.

The bottom line issue to the above is that back in 1990, pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co (makers of Mevacor), received two US patents for the combined use of CoQ10 and statin drugs.  The “purpose” was to treat and prevent the side effects of liver damage and myopathy caused by statin drugs’ blockage of CoQ10 production.  The first patent, patent #4,929,437 clearly states that by lowering CoQ10, the statin drugs can cause predictable elevations of liver enzymes along with liver damage.  It also states that by giving CoQ10 along with the drugs, this complication can be prevented, or easily treated if it already exists.

The second patent issued a month later also addresses use of CoQ10 to prevent, and for the treatment of, muscle pain, weakness, and myopathy.

Now for the most incredible part, that to this date Merck has never exercised either of these patents, has never made the combination CoQ10 / statin product, and even worse, has never attempted to educate physicians or patients about the very dangerous connection.  For that matter, neither have any of the drug companies bothered to share information with either doctors or patients.

Patients are informed of potential side effects of muscle weakness or soreness or liver enzyme elevations, although with very rare exceptions are they ever told that this is likely due to the drug’s reduction of CoQ10.  Nor are they told that the use of CoQ10 supplements could prevent or eliminate these problems. 

This problem is now exacerbated to a potentially huge public health disaster with lower guidelines set recently by the National Cholesterol Education Program.  These new guidelines have reduced the levels for which statin drugs can be prescribed, the end result which is that we now have an epidemic of congestive heart failure, with over 400,000 NEW cases reported every year – because of the heart’s inability to effectively pump blood.  And once again according to Dr. Whitaker, half of the 4.8 million Americans who currently have congestive heart failure will die within five years.

What to do?

If you, or a friend, or family members are taking a statin drug, you should immediately begin protecting yourself with a minimum of 100 to 200 mg of CoQ10 daily.  The product is easily found at any health food store.  It is also suggested getting a blood test to determine your CoQ10 level and increasing that dose if indicated.

PS:  We haven’t the space to give full details however CoQ10 also appears to be particularly effective in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.  A recent study published in the Archives of Neurology involving 80 patients with early Parkinson’s disease experienced a 44 percent reduction in worsening of symptoms.  It also has a role with diabetes as per Australian scientist Jonathan Hodgson who showed that CoQ10 is normally at sub levels with diabetics and subsequently that CoQ10 supplements improved blood sugar control.

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