Statins may make you sleepy
  • Tue, 06/12/2012 - 3:11pm

A recent randomized study revealed general fatigue and lack of energy during exercise as possible adverse side effects of statins in patients looking to reduce cholesterol.
Non-smokers who had neither heart disease nor elevated CRP (a blood marker that detects inflammation associated with heart disease) but took statins to prevent cardiac events were more likely to experience decreases in energy rather than cardiac events, according to Dr. Beatrice Golomb at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine. She approximated that as many as 20 to 40 percent of people taking statins to lower cholesterol could experience fatigue.
According to MedicineNet, statins reduce cholesterol produced by the liver and work to lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood. This helps prevent a condition called antherosclerosis, in which plaques containing cholesterol restrict blood flow throughout the body.
Antherosclerosis, according to MedicineNet, can cause a mutitude of complications. Blood clots that form from ruptured plaque can further reduce blood flow and cause angina (chest pain), heart attack, stroke (which is when plaques block blood flow in the arteries of the brain) and intermittent claudication (leg pain while walking).
Golomb led the study on statins in which 1,016 patients with LDL levels of 115 to 190 mg/dL and no heart disease or diabetes were selected at random to take either a placebo or statin simvastatin (Zocor) or pravastatin (Pravachol). According to WebMD, LDL is low-density lipoprotein and is considered “bad” cholesterol because it is largely fat and very small amounts of protein.
To create a baseline, both male and female subjects rated their energy level and the amount of fatigue they experienced during exercise. The baseline was compared to a follow-up assessment six months later in which patients rated their energy levels on a five-point scale, ranging from “much less” (-2) to “much more” (+2).
Golomb’s results showed that statins were associated with an increase in general fatigue and a lack of energy during exercise by, on average, 0.25 with simvastatin and 0.17 with pravastatin. The reduced energy levels were greater for women than for men.
Energy level can add to or detract from a person’s quality of life, so Golomb's study reveals that statins should be carefully considered before being prescribed to individuals looking to lower cholesterol.


About the Contributor

Jessica Davids
I report on FDA developments and new pharmaceutical launches, risks, and safety concerns.

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