Give Me Back My Mind!

There are two updates to this post, within.

This is very distressing news.

Good For The Heart, Bad For The Mind? — Flash video from ABC News


Update: Someone uploaded the video segment to YouTube. You can watch it here without going to ABC’s site:

I’m on one of these goddamned things.

I noticed mental effects right away. Had to twist my doctor’s arm in order to get off it to confirm my contention.

Worse news: It did not reverse the effects.

So I’ve been back on it.

But the effects are getting worse recently. I’ve been joking about premature Alzheimer’s. Turns out it’s no joke. These things can mimic that.

Worst of all, my writing has turned to utter shit.

I didn’t think to Google this until now. Because I didn’t know about it. I hadn’t been told of this possible side effect!

Some Docs in Denial About Statin Side Effects

According to a recent survey of 650 patients, doctors dismissed or ignored patients’ concerns about statin side effects more often than they acknowledged them.1 Among the symptoms encountered by patients were muscle pain, cognitive deficits, and finger and toe numbness—all side effects reported in the literature[.]

Patients Report Damaging Side Effects From Lipitor

Maureen Webber had to quit her job. She has to write everything down in a journal or else she’ll forget right away.

And former NASA astronaut Duane Graveline has had two bouts of temporary amnesia.

Is Your Doctor in Denial?

Most said they’d complained to their doctors about such possible side effects as problems with memory or attention, or tingling or numbness in their hands and feet.


I have taken Lipitor for several years. I now notice numbness in my feet and sporadic memory loss, difficulty balancing my checkbook and using the computer.

Malpractice and Statin Drugs Side Effects

Five years have passed since my transient global amnesia reaction to the statin drug, Lipitor, was made public knowledge. At that time dozens of doctors and pharmacists assured me that, “Statins don’t do that.”

Statin | Side Effects — a long list of links!

Emphasis added by me in all quotes above.

I don’t know what to do about this yet. When I had mentioned getting off of this altogether to my pharmacist, he said it might not be possible. He said some people are genetically predisposed to manufacturing excess cholesterol.

I must call my doctor tomorrow. I need to get this straightened out.

I want my fucking mind back!

Update: This is the Wall Street Journal article referenced in the ABC video.

Explore posts in the same categories: Personal, Reference - Life, Reference - Science, Statin Drugs, Video - Online, Writing

4 Comments on “Give Me Back My Mind!”

  1. Sharon Hope Says:

    Original hypothesis by Sharon Hope – Statin memory loss is pharmacologically predictable. Probably too long for you to post, but because you had the courage to make this page, I wanted you to see it.

    Statin-associated Memory Loss – One Mechanism Identified

    Sharon Hope, October 9, 2007

    ABSTRACT: HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, the cholesterol-lowering class of statin drugs, are associated with memory loss. A recent publication provided evidence of long term potentiation (LTP) [1], demonstrating the physical process for formation of memory and verifying the necessary environment, which must include actin and cofilin. The researchers used (+/-)-3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP), a product of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), to prevent new memory formation and erase existing memory. A survey of the literature indicates that statins inhibit Rho, essential for actin and cofilin, and that statins upregulate NOS, and thereby CPP. This suggests that one mechanism responsible for statin memory loss is the modification of the hippocamal synaptic environment by these statin actions. Thus, statin memory loss is a pharmacologically predictable outcome of statin treatment. Prescribing physicians should monitor statin patients for cognitive decline and intervene prior to significant impact to quality of life.

    PURPOSE: Identify the mechanism by which HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, the cholesterol-lowering class of statin drugs, induce memory loss.

    BACKGROUND: Cognitive adverse drug reactions (ADRs), including, amnesia, transient global amnesia, aphasia and impairment of short term memory, have been documented in association with statins. The damage is measurable and persistent, affects both the patient and family caregiver, and is underreported.

    The Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin listed Simvastatin under “Drugs that make you forget,” referring to reports of memory impairment or amnesia, including transient global amnesia, associated with drug therapy in 1998 [2]. In 2004, Australia’s National Prescribing Service Limited released a fact sheet entitled “Statins and Memory Loss,” based on reports of statins and amnesia or memory loss in Australia, specific to Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin, Pravastatin, and Simvastatin [3]. In 2005, the Canadian Adverse Reaction Newsletter identified adverse reaction reports of amnesia, to include forgetfulness, memory disturbance, memory impairment and memory loss, submitted to Health Canada in association with Atorvastatin, Cerivastatin, Lovastatin, Pravastatin, Rosuvastatin, and Simvastatin [4].

    Journal publications reviewing ADRs include “Statin-associated memory loss: analysis of 60 case reports and review of the literature” by Wagstaff, et al [5], examining ADR reports to the United State’s Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and “Psychiatric adverse reactions with statins, fibrates and ezetimibe: implications for the use of lipid-lowering agents,” by Tatley and Savage [6], reviewing the increase in ADR reports to the New Zealand Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM). Published case reports have detailed individual or multiple patients experiencing statin-associated impairment of short term memory or amnesia [7, 8, 9, 10,11,12]. Anecdotal and other information on statin-associated amnesia and memory loss, less constrained to clinical and statistical data and more oriented to impact on patient daily living and quality of life, has been published in books [13, 14, 15], magazines [16], and newspapers [17, 18]. The journal article, “Implications of statin adverse effects in the elderly,” by Golomb, emphasizes that the elderly are more vulnerable to and less likely to recover from statin ADRs [19].

    Muldoon, et al [20,21], repeatedly succeeded in identifying and measuring cognitive changes in statin patients in placebo-controlled trials, and identified the specific neuropsychological tests most sensitive to statin cognitive damage. Golomb reported that patients that experienced statin-associated memory loss were subsequently unable to recover more than 85% of their pre-statin cognitive abilities after halting the statin, and upon rechallenge, they were unable to recover more than 85% of the previously recovered cognitive ability [22].

    Memory loss not only affects the patient but the family, regardless of cause. It is commonly acknowledged that upon the death of an elderly spouse, the risk that the surviving spouse will die within one year increases. However, Christakakis and Allison [23] found that hospitalization for a diagnosis of psychiatric disease or dementia resulted in an even greater increase in risk of mortality for the care giving spouse, and that risk was also higher than if the diagnosis had been cancer or stroke. Damjanovic, et al, [24] found that caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients experienced a decline in immune cells due to chronic stress, as evidenced by accelerated telomere erosion.

    The incidence of statin patients developing memory loss or amnesia is underreported. Golomb, et al, found that physicians were more likely to deny than endorse the association between statins and cognitive ADRs when the symptoms were reported by the patient [25].

    METHODS: Retrospective review using Pub Med, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, and other sources.

    RESULTS: Memory is formed by Long Term Potentiation (LTP) in the Hippocampus, whereby a change in the shape of a synapse ensures that subsequent signaling will follow the same pathway between neurons [26]. Researchers at University of California at Irvine, in a recent publication of physical evidence of LTP [1,27], demonstrated the physical process for formation of memory and verified the necessary environment for this change in shape. The researchers demonstrated that phosphorylated cofilin (pCofilin) caused actin polymerization, affecting actin filaments (f-Actin) to achieve a larger synapse. They used NMDA receptor agonist (+/-)-3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP), a product of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), to disrupt memory formation. A retrospective review of the literature indicates that CPP prevents new memory formation and erases existing memory.

    Thus, both pCofilin and f-Actin are essential to forming memory, but they are products of Rho, which is produced in the mevalonate pathway. Statins interfere with the mevalonate pathway, by inhibiting HMG CoA reductase, and thereby inhibit other downstream products, including production of Coenzyme Q 10, dolichols, and Rho, and thus inhibit f-Actin and pCofilin. Statins affect the actin cytoskeleton, inhibit RhoA activation, and Cofilin phosphorylation [28,29,30,31,32].

    Statins upregulate Nitric Oxide, which produces CPP [33,34,35], thereby increasing the substance that erases existing memory and prevents formation of new memory.

    Researchers report that cholesterol and Coenzyme Q10 are needed for memory function [36,37,38,39,40]. Cholesterol and Coenzyme Q10 production are also inhibited by statins, and likely contribute to statin cognitive ADRs, as may other mechanisms, above and beyond the suppression of LTP.

    CONCLUSIONS: Statins are the most prescribed class of drugs in the world, and in the history of the world, and there is a bias against reporting of adverse effects. Even so, memory impairment has been established as an adverse effect of statin drugs, and various mechanisms may be involved. However, the fact that statins inhibit Rho and upregulate NOS, and thereby interfere with LTP, is sufficient to indicate that statin memory loss is a pharmacologically predictable statin outcome.

    Prescribing physicians should monitor for statin memory loss, and consider establishing a pre-statin cognitive baseline using the statin sensitive neuropsychiatric tests. When memory loss is identified, the physician should proactively intervene, treat the patient and family through recovery, and file an ADR report.

    Emergency and other physicians should consider statin-associated memory loss in evaluation of patients presenting with Transient Global Amnesia, amnesia, memory loss, or aphasia.

    Researchers should build on the understanding of LTP, recognize statin interference with LTP is repeatable, which is consistent with Muldoon’s and with Golomb’s findings [20,21,22], and begin to identify treatment toward recovery for statin memory loss patients based on this new understanding.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND AFFILIATION: The author wishes to thank Michael Hope for his inspiring courage and strength in working for nearly a decade toward recovery from his own statin ADRs. The author’s affiliation is to her spouse, and to other families impacted by statin adverse effects. Author served as a patient advocate on the Advisory Board for the Robert Wood Johnson University of California at San Diego (RWJ/UCSD) Statin Effects Study.


    1. Fedulov V, Rex CS, Simmons DA, Palmer L, Gall CM, Lynch G. Evidence that long-term potentiation occurs within individual hippocampal synapses during learning. J Neurosci. 2007 Jul 25. 27(30):8031-9. PMID: 17652593
    2. Drugs That Make You Forget. Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin. 1998 Aug. Volume 17, Number 3, section 3, page 3.
    3. Statins and memory loss. National Prescribing Service Limited. 2004 Nov. Fact Sheet 18.
    4. Statins and memory loss. Canadian Adverse Reaction Newsletter. 2005 Oct. Volume 15, Issue 4.
    5. Wagstaff LR, Mitton MW, Arvik BM, Doraiswamy PM. Statin-associated memory loss: analysis of 60 case reports and review of the literature. Pharmacotherapy. 2003 Jul. 23(7):871-80. PMID: 12885101
    6. Tatley M, Savage R. Psychiatric adverse reactions with statins, fibrates and ezetimibe: implications for the use of lipid-lowering agents. Drug Saf. 2007. 30(3):195-201. PMID: 17343428
    7. Orsi A, Sherman O, Woldeselassie Z. Simvastatin-associated memory loss. Pharmacotherapy. 2001 Jun. 21(6):767-9. PMID: 11401190
    8. McCarthy MW, Hendrick AE. ADR of the Month. Newsletter, University of Virginia Health System Department of Pharmacy Services Drug Information Center. 2001 Sept. Vol. 6 No. 9.
    9. Do HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors impair memory? The Tablet, a general member benefit published by the British Columbia Pharmacy Association. 2001 Sept. Volume 10 no 8.
    10. King DS, Wilburn AJ, Wofford MR, Harrell TK, Lindley BJ, Jones DW. Cognitive impairment associated with atorvastatin and simvastatin. Pharmacotherapy. 2003. 23(12):1663-7. PMID: 14695047
    11. Galatti L, Polimeni G, Salvo F, Romani M, Sessa A, Spina E. Short-term memory loss associated with rosuvastatin. Pharmacotherapy. 2006 Aug. 26(8):1190-2. PMID: 16863497
    12. Padala KP, Padala PR, Potter JF. Simvastatin-induced decline in cognition. Ann Pharmacother. 2006 Oct;40(10):1880-3. Epub 2006 Aug 29. October, 2006 Oct; Epub August 29, 2006. 40(10):1880-3.. PMID: 16940411
    13. Graveline, D, Cohen JS, McCully KS. Lipitor, Thief of Memory. Publisher: Duane Graveline (November 1, 2006). ISBN-10: 1424301629, ISBN-13: 978-1424301621
    14. Graveline D. Statin Drugs: Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol. Publisher: Duane Graveline; 3rd edition (2006). ISBN-10: 0970081790
    15. Cohen, JS. What You Must Know About Statin Drugs & Their Natural Alternatives. Square One Publishers (December 2004). ISBN-10: 0757002579, ISBN-13: 978-0757002571
    16. Laise E. The Lipitor Dilemma. Smart Money Magazine. November 2003. 90-96.
    17. Graedon J, Graedon T. People’s Pharmacy: Are Cholesterol Drugs Linked to Memory Loss?. Newspaper Columns, Editorial. 2006 Feb 13.
    18. Dickey, F. The OD MD. Los Angeles Times Magazine. February 15, 2004.
    19. Golomb BA. Implications of statin adverse effects in the elderly. Expert Opin Drug Saf.. 2005 May. 4(3):389-97. PMID: 15934847
    20. Muldoon MF, Barger SD, Ryan CM, Flory JD, Lehoczky JP, Matthews KA, Manuck SB. Effects of lovastatin on cognitive function and psychological well-being. Am J Med.. 2000 May. 108(7):538-46. PMID: 10806282
    21. Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Sereika SM, Flory JD, Manuck SB. Randomized trial of the effects of simvastatin on cognitive functioning in hypercholesterolemic adults. Am J Med. 2004 Dec. 117(11):823-9. PMID: 15589485
    22. Golomb, BA. Clinical follow-up after stopping statin treatment. Paper presented at the 4th Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles, April 14-17 2005, 14:30 pm, PST. Saturday, April 16th. Unpublished.
    23. Christakis NA, Allison PD. Mortality after the hospitalization of a spouse. N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 16. 354(7):719-30. PMID: 16481639
    24. Damjanovic AK, Yang Y, Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Nguyen, H, Laskowski B, Zou Y, Beversdorf DQ, Weng NP. Accelerated telomere erosion is associated with a declining immune function of caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease patients. J Immunol. 2007 Sep 15. 179(6):4249-54. PMID: 17785865
    25. Golomb BA, McGraw JJ, Evans MA, Dimsdale JE. Physician response to patient reports of adverse drug effects: implications for patient-targeted adverse effect surveillance. Drug Saf. 2007. 30(8):669-75. PMID: 17696579
    26. Fedulov V, Rex CS, Simmons DA, Palmer L, Gall CM, Lynch G. Evidence that long-term potentiation occurs within individual hippocampal synapses during learning. J Neurosci. 2007 Jul 25. 27(30):8031-9. PMID: 17652593
    27. McDermott, T. Chasing Memory, a four-part series from the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. August 19, 20, 21, 22.
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    29. Fernandez-Hernando C, Suarez Y, Lasuncion MA. Lovastatin-induced PC-12 cell differentiation is associated with RhoA/RhoA kinase pathway inactivation. Mol Cell Neurosci. PMID: 15951198
    30. Brown JH, Del Re DP, Sussman MA. The Rac and Rho hall of fame: a decade of hypertrophic signaling hits. Circ Res. 2006 Mar. 31;98(6):730-42. PMID: 16574914
    31. Rikitake Y, Liao JK. Rho GTPases, statins, and nitric oxide. Circ Res. 2005 Dec. 9;97(12):1232-5. PMID: 16339495
    32. Trebicka J, Hennenberg M, Laleman W, Shelest N, Biecker E, Schepke M, Nevens F, Sauerbruch T, Heller J. Atorvastatin lowers portal pressure in cirrhotic rats by inhibition of RhoA/Rho-kinase and activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Hepatology. 2007 Jul. 46(1):242-53. PMID: 17596891
    33. Tousoulis D, Antoniades C, Stefanadis C. Statins ameliorate atherosclerosis induced by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase: Another novel vascular protective mechanism?. Int J Cardiol. 2007 Jun 12; [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 17570544
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    40. Thelen KM, Rentsch KM, Gutteck U, Heverin M, Olin M, Andersson U, von Eckardstein A, Bjorkhem I, Lutjohann D. Brain cholesterol synthesis in mice is affected by high dose of simvastatin but not of pravastatin. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006 Mar Epub 2005 Nov. 316(3):1146-52. PMID: 16282522

  2. Fran Says:

    My husband is experiencing cognitive decline from 8 years of statins. He improved considerably after stopping them 3+ years ago, but statins have reared their ugly head again. While taking Lipitor 20 mg he experienced several episodes of TGA and frequent short term memory. Now long term memory is affected.

    Could I ask what your cholesterol levels were before statins? And is elevated cholesterol your only risk factor?

  3. mikecane Says:

    I have a doc appointment later this week. I intend to get all my measured cholesterol levels over the past several years and will post them here.

  4. Shannon Says:

    Just curious, but did your doctor ever suggest any natural alternatives to statins? Especially once you told him/her about your mental side effects?
    I work for a company called CLUE Bar which lowers cholesterol naturally. It tastes like and is as safe as an oatmeal cookie. I’ve spoken with a number of our customers who were experiencing similar side effects to yours who were able to either stop, or at least reduce, their statin use. You can check us out at or email me and I’d be happy to send you more information. Statins are not the only answer and, at the very least, your doctor (though you may have to be the one to ask) should be able to give you some foods/supplements/etc to try. Good luck!

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