Archive for the ‘Statin Drugs’ category

Statin Drugs: Two Notes

March 14, 2008

Note One:

Jury Clears Doctors In John Ritter Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Lotysch testified he told Ritter he had calcification in three coronary arteries and should consult other doctors. But in a related finding, the jury decided that Ritter’s failure to pursue that medical consultation was not a cause of his death.

Emphasis added by me.

That sounds contradictory at first glance. But what he died of was something cardiac-related but not entirely caused by the calcification.

I have two things to say about this:

1) If you are diagnosed similarly, follow up!

2) I couldn’t stand John Ritter. I saw the first episode of the original British series that Three’s Company was based on. By comparison, our version stunk. I saw John Ritter in the movie Hero At Large. I still couldn’t stand him. The premise of 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter intrigued me and I tuned in. Suddenly, John Ritter was a great talent to me! So, ultimately, yeah, I wound up liking him and his sudden death was truly tragic. He was in a very funny series that could have run for ages.

Note Two:

Yesterday I finally got copies of my blood work that was done over the past several years. I have to go through all of that and extract the salient details that relate to my being put on Simvastatin. Those of you who are interested in this, be forewarned: The free WordPress service I use will not allow me to create a table. A table would be the easiest and clearest way to present this data. But that’s not going to happen. So, I’ll have to see what I can do to not make it a total mess.

Previously here:

Statin Drugs: No Blood
Statin Drugs: Does V.P. Dick Cheney Take One?
Statin Drugs: Jarvik Ads Withdrawn
Statin Drugs: More Better!
Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing
Statin Drugs: Survey
Simvastatin Made Me Insane
Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Statin Drugs: No Blood

February 29, 2008

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Saw my primary care doc today. Gave her copies of all the statin-related stuff: WSJ article and my blog posts. Dropped off another set with a second doc. I still have to schedule my cardiologist.

I was hoping to get copies of all my blood work and post the cholesterol scores here. But Medical Records has changed its policy and that info will now be mailed to me. Previously, I could get what I needed on the spot.

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It might have been my ranting about the statin effects, but my blood pressure was the highest it’s ever been for me. Not that even that is considered “high” blood pressure. My blood pressure is so low they won’t give me a scrip for a certain cardiac med because they fear I’ll pass out while walking and crack open my skull. As it is, they wonder how I get around without doing that.

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I use mirrors.

Previously here:

Statin Drugs: Does V.P. Dick Cheney Take One?
Statin Drugs: Jarvik Ads Withdrawn
Statin Drugs: More Better!
Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing
Statin Drugs: Survey
Simvastatin Made Me Insane
Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Statin Drugs: Does V.P. Dick Cheney Take One?

February 26, 2008

I don’t know why, but that question popped into my mind last night.

He just might.

Looking at that complex chart, I also have to wonder if his breathing problems are a side-effect of the statin drug. I had near-daily breathing problems with Simvastatin.

The link doesn’t work on that page, but there is also mention of the infamous hunting trip where he accidentally shot a fellow hunter. Did he have, as I did under the influence of Simvastatin, violent impulses? And did he happen to give into one?

I have to tell you right now that I fear someone under the influence of a statin drug holding a high office in our country.

Previously here:

Statin Drugs: Jarvik Ads Withdrawn
Statin Drugs: More Better!
Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing
Statin Drugs: Survey
Simvastatin Made Me Insane
Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Statin Drugs: Jarvik Ads Withdrawn

February 26, 2008

Pfizer pulls TV ads with heart expert Jarvik

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc said on Monday it was pulling television advertisements for its Lipitor cholesterol drug featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, because they created “misimpressions.”

The ads involving Jarvik had come under scrutiny from a U.S. House of Representative committee as part of an investigation into celebrity endorsements of prescription medicines.

Democratic lawmakers had voiced concern that Jarvik’s qualifications were misrepresented in widely seen TV commercials touting the blockbuster drug. They said Jarvik seemed to be dispensing medical advice even though he is not a practicing physician.

The commercials, which portray Jarvik in various outdoor activities, also raised eyebrows after news reports that a stunt double was used in a scene with a man rowing across a lake.

Emphasis added by me.

Steve Salerno called it. Nice work, Steve.

I have some questions for Jarvik:

1) What is your prescription dose?

2) How long have you been taking it?

3) Are you taking a CoEnyzme-Q10 supplement?

4) Are you taking any vitamin/mineral supplements?

5) How are your facial muscles?

6) How is your outlook on life?

7) How is your long-term memory?

8) How is your short-term memory?

9) How is your vision?

10) How are your tendons?

Here is one Jarvik ad (not the infamous one, but it will do):

Look at these two stills of Jarvik’s face:

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I’m going to bring up something that risks having me look like I’m on the lunatic fringe, but here goes.

I’m wondering if Jarvik is experiencing one of the side effects I had from Simvastatin. This side-effect is a downward pull of the facial muscles. It becomes basically impossible to genuinely smile (not, being made miserable by the drug, would you want to!). Trying to raise the facial muscles to create a smile is like lifting a one-ton weight.

Notice Jarvik’s mouth again, with this overlay:

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I had the same downward droop.

I don’t know Jarvik. This might be a feature of his physiognomy.

But still, I have to wonder: Can you smile, Jarvik? Freely, truly, and genuinely smile?

Previously here:

Statin Drugs: More Better!
Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing
Statin Drugs: Survey
Simvastatin Made Me Insane
Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Statin Drugs: More Better!

February 23, 2008

Some new things to report in my post-statin odyssey:

1) I can breathe to the bottom of my lungs again.

2) I feel in possession of my body again. I used to feel like I was only inhabiting it.

3) Colors have a vibrancy again.

4) I woke up feeling more relaxed than I have in more than two years.

5) There’s a huge difference in my sense of balance. My posture has improved.

6) The background beat of my existence has changed from death-death-death-death … to life-life-life-life.

7) I feel younger.

8) Looking back, I’m shocked at what a twisted, tormented, and tortured thing I had been made into by the drug.

My mind is still far from optimal. I can write a sentence and look at it over and over and wonder if it makes sense or if the tenses are correct. If my grammar is sometimes fractured, well, that’s why. I still can’t properly process some sentences.

Previously here:

Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing
Statin Drugs: Survey
Simvastatin Made Me Insane
Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing

February 22, 2008

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I underwent a cardiac catherization recently. It was a terrible experience. So much so that I threatened to punch one of the doctor’s in the face if he didn’t leave my bedside post-procedure.

Three things here:

1) Without the influence of the statin, I would not have threatened the doctor

2) Without the influence of the statin, I would not have had the cardiac problems I’d experienced

3) Without the influence of the statin, I would not have had the breathing problems I’d experienced

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A statin drug can shorten your life. A statin drug can kill you.

Read those two sentences again. They are true.

In the Comments here, someone named Joseph pointed me to a patent application from Merck. It is revelatory. They wanted to patent a combo drug: a statin with CoEnzyme-Q10.

I’d heard about CoQ-10 (as it’s commonly called) since the 1970s. But I’d heard of it from the health-food fringe. That group is not altogether trustworthy — or, let me be charitable here, is subject to easy infiltration by snake-oil fraudsters who then tend to cause the entire group to seem untrustworthy. (Back in the 1970s, Laetrile was being touted as a suppressed cancer cure, along with — I am not kidding! — coffee enemas!)

Anyway, this Merck patent is the first thing I’ve read that shows mainstream scientific evidence for the efficacy of CoQ-10. It’s also the first time I’ve read mainstream scientific evidence that a statin drug can lead to a decrease in cardiac performance!

It’s also the first time I’ve read of a statin drug causing vision problems. My vision has turned to crap — coincidentally during the very two years I’d been on the statin! I thought it was my imagination yesterday morning when I didn’t need my reading glasses for a while. Another thing I’ve already noticed is that my breathing has measurably improved. While on the statin I had two major bouts of bronchitis and ongoing breathing/cardiac problems that made some days just an absolute misery.

A statin drug can also have the side-effect of headaches. Here’s a curious twist in my case. In my adult life, I’ve rarely had headaches. And I didn’t while on the statin. Since dropping the statin, I’ve had evening headaches for the past three days and have a minor headache as I type this. I’m chalking this up to my brain cells having a non-stop party over the cholesterol that’s coming in.

I’d say having to undergo a cardiac cath for nothing is lawsuit material. But still I don’t want to sue. First, I want to get on with my (statin-free!) life. Second, at least the cath let me know my arteries were clear.

But here’s a word to the makers of statins: You’d better start coming clean and filling up those warning labels with the side-effects you refuse to acknowledge. You live in a world with the Internet. People are reading these posts. Sooner or later, a sharp attorney will read these posts and get the idea for a class-action lawsuit that can bury you.

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Statin Drugs: Survey

February 21, 2008

Statin Effects Study

OUR RESEARCH

The UCSD Statin Study group, headed by Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, has actively been researching statin medications and their risk-benefit balance, including possible side effects. We believe it is important to understand all of the benefits and adverse events of statins. Accordingly, our work is geared towards expanding knowledge of the impact of statins in order to better inform the public and the medical community.

While many physicians (and experts in heart disease and cholesterol) are familiar with the benefits of statins, they are often unfamiliar with the adverse experiences that many people have reported. These include: muscle pain, muscle weakness, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, memory/thinking problems, and mood/personality changes among other symptoms.

Previously, we conducted a “randomized controlled trial” of persons living in San Diego, examining effects of low dose statins on thinking, mood, behavior, and quality of life. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Analysis and study reports of our randomized trial are ongoing.

We are currently undertaking a separate, observational study, The Statin Effects Study. We are interested in the experiences of people presently or formerly on statins, who have noticed any side effects (or benefits) while on these drugs. We are also interested in hearing from people who did not notice any change in order to to help identify characteristics that may predict risks and benefits while on statins.

Take the survey if you’re on, or have been on, a statin drug. I just did.

If you know someone on such a drug, tell them about the survey.

If you don’t trust doing it over the Internet, the survey can be mailed to you in paper format.

The more people participate, the more of an impact we can have to persuade government and manufacturers to add dangerous mental effects to the warning labels of these drugs.

Simvastatin Made Me Insane

February 21, 2008

That’s a provocative and controversial claim. But it is true.

A week ago, I stopped — on my own, without medical consultation — the nightly 40mg pill of Simvastatin I’d been taking for nearly two years. I did that after seeing this video and reading this article. I’d been having cognitive problems that were becoming noticeable and which were also accelerating.

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I had stopped Simvastatin once before, for two weeks, but didn’t notice any change in my mind then.

This time, however, I did something different: I made a conscious effort to boost my cholesterol level.

It’s now a week later, and I can unequivocably state this: Simvastatin made me insane!

I woke up this morning and the contrast in my mind is startling, breathtaking, and stark.

My mind is no longer a tightly-clenched fist. My facial muscles have all relaxed. I have genuinely wanted to smile. Any smile I’ve tried to put on my face in the past two years came off looking more like a death rictus instead of an expression of pleasure or happiness.

My mind is now … quiet!

There are other effects Simvastatin had on me that I couldn’t notice until now, until after they’ve been extinguished by discontinuing the drug.

1) I’m no longer vaguely paranoid

2) I’m no longer full of aggression and frustration

3) I can literally feel parts of my mind that I couldn’t before

4) My short-term memory has improved

5) My retrieval of long-term memory has improved

6) I no longer feel under siege all the time

7) My sense of patience has returned

8) I feel capable again

9) I feel like me again

Under the mind-destroying effects of Simvastatin, I came very, very close to engaging in physical violence over the past two years on several occasions. I had zero tolerance for shit. I could not let things slide. I was at war and was nearly pushed into taking action on that horrible impulse. It was only because the remaining, though smothered, small part of what was still me held back that I didn’t physically lash out.

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I have never had something like this occur in my life. I’ve been in possession of my head. For the past two years, I wasn’t. My mind was taken from me and reconfigured in ways I never thought could happen. Even though I felt something was wrong, I didn’t feel as if it was happening to me — it felt like me. But it wasn’t me.

The insidiousness of the change can’t be seen from the inside while it’s happening. It’s only when the influence has been removed and the mind is once again given the cholesterol it needs to regain equilibrium is it possible to see the actual warpage.

I have an entire blog that is testimony to the effects of Simvastatin! If you want to see the contrast between “that” me and me me, see how this blog is beginning today, without Simvastatin as my mental hijacker.

I could feel a change beginning to happen yesterday. I’d written two blog posts and each one had shocking final sentences. I was able to see those as something I wouldn’t normally say and deleted them before publication. And last night, while in AllPeers chat with Judie Lipsett of Gear Diary, I was able to pull up the name of a reference work I hadn’t thought of in many years.

I’m still nowhere near back to full mental capacity. My mind is still spinning a bit as I try to use my short-term memory. Making certain I had everything I needed before going out this morning was not altogether smooth. But I did manage not to forget anything.

My vocabulary is still limited. And there are brief moments when a mist still descends. But I can tell the effects of the Simvastatin are receding.

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I have a hypothesis about this. I think when the brain is starved of cholesterol, it shuts down — in this order — those portions of the mind that handle creativity, long-term memory, future planning, and those aspects of personality that give us a sense of well-being. What remains is the part of the mind that deals with threat — because, biologically, the brain feels under threat! This could explain why one side-effect some people experience is terrifying nightmares. I had a few of those.

And I sit here wondering how many other people have been damaged by statin drugs in this manner. Are there people out there who had their heads twisted by this drug and engaged in behavior that wrecked their lives? Did they mouth off to a cop, for instance, when ordinarily they wouldn’t have? Did they bash someone in the face they otherwise wouldn’t have? Did they begin to have suicidal thoughts? (The past few weeks, I did!) Did they injure someone they know, or themselves, or even kill themselves?

I’m not one to go out to find a lawyer to sue a drugmaker. I know how science — and human life — works. We do our best to avoid unintentional injury, but it sometimes happens. That’s just life. And I’m not looking to be an activist or a spokesperson for this issue. What I would like to see, however, are more specific listings of possible cognitive side-effects of these drugs. Why did I have to learn about this on the Internet? And then, only by sheer chance? Why wasn’t it on the warning label of the prescription? Why wasn’t I able to have advance warning of specific mental changes to look for? It could have saved me a lot of grief.

There are few times in this life when someone can say they’ve actually helped another person. Jane Brunzie, who is mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article and in that ABC News report, helped me by telling her story. Thank you, Jane. I hope telling my story will help someone else.

Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!

February 19, 2008

TENDON RUPTURE WITH STATIN THERAPY (PDF link; HTML link)

A 46-year-old male physician had been treated with atorvastatin and pravastatin for his hypercholesterolemia. He had no other medical history. He was then placed on the combination product simvastatin 20 mg and ezetimibe 10 mg (Vytorin). Four months after starting on these two agents, the patient ruptured his left biceps tendon while simply lifting a box from his car. The patient was not on any other medications and did not have any arm pain before this incident. The patient required surgical repair of the tendon and was not restarted on the simvastatin and ezetimibe for another 2 months. After a short period of time, the man started having pain in his other arm over the biceps tendon. The medication was stopped and the pain resolved within 2 weeks.

The authors of this report point out that tendinopathy or tendon rupture are very rare with the class of drugs commonly called the “statins.” Their search of PubMed yielded only four reports of tendinopathy or tendinitis. There were no reports of tendon rupture. The authors also state that in almost 84,000 patients randomly assigned to placebo or statins in clinical trials, there were no reports of tendinitis or tendon rupture. There are 247 reports of tendon rupture in the Food and Drug Administration’s adverse-event reporting system database associated with statin therapy.

Emphasis added by me.

So there I was in the shower one morning soaping up my left underarm and noticing that I’d been having trouble lifting that arm as well as stretching it. What I discovered was a thin strip of something under my skin, where there had never been anything before. And there wasn’t anything similar in my right arm. I’d never before had anything like this in my life. Even muscle sprains (mainly leg and wrist) never presented themselves like that. And I hadn’t done any heavy lifting or unusual activity.

I called up anatomical charts, drawings, and photos on the Net. I couldn’t figure out what the hell it was. Nothing looked like it or even gave a hint of where it came from.

I saw two of my doctors. They were stumped. One of them even opened his desktop anatomical reference. And he couldn’t find it, either.

I asked both of these doctors if this could a side-effect of the Simvastatin. Both said No.

Then I saw my cardiologist. He, surprisingly, said it was a tendon. I also asked him if it was Simvastatin-related. He too said No.

Now I find out the FDA has had other reports of this?

Previously here:
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Simvastatin Vs. My Mind

February 15, 2008

It’s difficult to write this. In fact, it’s difficult to write anything recently.

Until a few days ago, I had absolutely no idea that the cognitive malfunctioning I’ve been experiencing was due to a cholesterol-lowering medicine I’d been prescribed close to two years ago.

Within months after being prescribed it, I could feel a difference in my mind. I no longer felt “all there.” It’s very frustrating to try to explain this in words because it’s introspective and subjective. I’m a writer, extremely introspective, and also introverted. It’s been my business to know my mind and to use it as a tool to earn a living.

Like I said, I had a sense that something was missing. But I couldn’t tell what it was. I still, in fact, can’t.

But this is what I do know:

1) I’ve felt mentally neutered since being on the statin

2) My ability to easily compose a satisfying (to me!) sentence is gone

3) My ability to fix an unsatisfying sentence is gone

4) My short-term memory has decreased drastically, especially in the past 2-3 months

5) My agility with words has diminished significantly; if I need a word, I can’t find it in my head

6) My train of thought disappears into a mist so I can no longer find the destination I started out to reach (that happened with this Oprah post; if it seemed to end abruptly, now you know why!)

6) My small and poor math abilities have withered and become catastrophically bad

7) I don’t know what else — and that is perhaps the worst part.

It has taken nearly two years for the impact of the statin medication to reach a point where it had me wondering if I was developing Alzheimer’s, or had cerebral arteries that were clogging up, or … I can’t think of what else. I’ve lost the destination.

And now I sit here, having stopped taking the medication (something my primary care doctor won’t know for two weeks), wondering if it will take two more years for me to get my mind back.

In that ABC News video, based on this Wall Street Journal report, a woman experiencing mental degradation from her statin medication had a reversal of effects within eight days. I was off my statin at one time for two weeks and still felt my mind was … not right (I couldn’t find the word I really needed there).

Now I’m going to make an all-out triage effort to raise my cholesterol as much as possible as soon as possible.

This idea will probably horrify any medical specialists who read this. Too bad. It’s my mind and you just don’t know what’s it like to be like this. I think if you did know, if it happened to you, you’d want to kill yourself. Because your mind contains more than mine most likely does — years of medical training and practiced skill — you would lose much more in a percentage basis comparison.

So, that’s where things stand right now. Whatever conclusion I was reaching for has disappeared in the mental mist.

Previously here:
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!