I've met many people on statin drugs. From men as young as 33 on up to older women, statin use is prevalent. Statin drugs are a class of the most commonly prescribed medicines for lowering cholesterol and, they may have other potential benefits as well for decreasing cardiac risk. But, they aren't without side effects.
Statin drugs lower LDL cholesterol (there are 4 subfractions of LDL though overall this is considered the "bad" cholesterol) by inhibiting the liver's ability to produce cholesterol. Statin drugs also reduce triglycerides and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol slightly.
However, they don't stop there, statin drugs may also lower some other risk factors for cardiac events including the size of arterial plaque, inflammation (which contributes to plaque formation and rupture - which can lead to a heart attack or stroke; inflammation is often measured by hsCRP, high sensitivity C-reactive protein) and blood clot formation at the site of a plaque rupture.
What Are Statins And What Is Statin-Related Myopathy?
Despite all of the potential good from statin drugs, like any medicine, they are not without side effects. Most side effects are relatively minor and include headache, gastrointestinal upset and dizziness.
However, statin use can also lead to myositis (inflammation of the muscles), myopathy (neuromuscular disease where the muscle fibers do not function, resulting in muscular weakness due to dysfunction of the muscle fiber) and on very rare occasions, rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle).
Symptoms of myopathy include muscle cramps, stiffness and spasm. Aside from the symptoms, persistent myopathy may be reflective of structural damage to muscle tissue.
What causes the problems with muscle tissue? Statin drugs interfere with the production of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a compound that plays an important role in cellular energy production. Therefore, several studies have hypothesized that statin-related muscle inflammation and myopathy are caused by CoQ10 deficiency.
What Is Coenzyme Q10?
CoQ10 (aka ubiquinone) is a lipid-soluble compound found in all human cell membranes and within the powerhouses of your cells (mitochondria). CoQ10 plays several important roles in the body including its involvement in cellular metabolism and respiration, it helps convert food energy into usable energy, serves as important component of cell membranes, and acts as an antioxidant.
Where Do We Get CoQ10?
We make it or obtain it through our diet. Low levels of CoQ10 in our body may result from aging, cancer drugs, a gene mutation or statin drug use.
How The Bodybuilding Supplement Coenzyme Q10 Can Curb Statin Related Myopathy
Research Shows That Statin Use Decreases Serum CoQ10 Levels By 16-54%: How do statins decrease CoQ10? Possibly because LDL is one of the carriers of CoQ10 (other carriers are HDL, VLDL and intermediate density lipoprotein particles).
Statin Use Can Also Decrease Intramuscular CoQ10: In addition to decreasing serum CoQ10, studies that have measured intramuscular CoQ10 with statin use shown a drop in muscle CoQ10 concentrations. In one study, 6 subjects on the statin drug simvastatin had muscle CoQ10 concentrations reduced by 24 - 74% compared to age and gender matched controls.
In addition, respiratory enzyme activity was also reduced significantly in the simvastatin group. Dose and type of statin drug may determine how statins affect intramuscular CoQ10 levels as subjects in another study were given a low dose of simvastatin, 20 mg/day, and showed no significant changes in intramuscular CoQ10 levels.
Supplemental CoQ10 Increases CoQ10 Stores And Symptoms Of Myopathy: Because some people on statin drugs have low serum CoQ10 levels, supplementation with 100mg/day may be necessary to increase CoQ10 stores according to the published research.
In a randomized, double-blind study, thirty-two patients with statin-related myopathic symptoms were given either coenzyme Q10 (100 mg/day, n = 18) or vitamin E (400 IU/day, n = 14) for 30 days. Muscle pain decreased significantly (40%) and pain interference with daily activities also decreased significantly (38%) in the CoQ10 group.
CoQ10 Does Even More For The Heart: A few studies have suggested that 60 - 100 mg doses of CoQ10 daily can lower blood pressure and, CoQ10 is an antioxidant as well.
CoQ10 Is Safe: One of the best things about CoQ10 is its safety profile. Several studies have examined the safety of CoQ10 at doses ranging from 300 mg to 900 mg/day and no clinically significant adverse side effects were noted.
Additional Tips To Help Decrease Myopathy
Talk to your Physician if you are experiencing muscle weakness. There are a number of causes of myopathy and determining the cause can help with the treatment protocol.
Check out Clinical Trials throughout the U.S. on Myopathy by plugging your search term into the NIH Clinical Trials site.
Never stop any medication without consulting with your physician first. Tough statin drugs are associated with some side effects; they help lower some risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in men and women in the United States.
If you are worried about changes in muscle tissue with statin use, talk to your physician about taking CoQ10 daily.
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