WebMD has an excellent article that details this phenomena.]]>
More common side effects experienced by about 20% of the people that use Ambien or Ambien CR are daytime drowsiness, dizziness and headaches. Factor in anxiety, disorientation, constipation, binge eating, hallucinations, nausea and GERD (heartburn); all in all there’s enough side effect potential to keep you up at night. Medicinenet.com has a more thorough listing.]]>
So you want to replace your statin with chocolate? We are not talking about your garden variety Hershey bar. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., says that one square of dark chocolate 3-4 times each week may be as much as 25 times more effective than taking a statin. I have not seen the back-up information or data on that claim but I will try to find it and post a link. And while I can’t to speak to the efficacy, I can speak to the taste; I myself eat a few squares of 88-90% almost every day. It is very low in sugar, low in carbohydrates and high in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
Remember, don’t do anything without discussing this with your physician first. Today’s wonder drug or cure is all to often tomorrow’s health calamity.]]>
To be clear, I am not opposed to pharmaceutical companies or the men and women who work in the pharmaceutical industry. People have consciences, people have moral compasses and people have the capacity to understand right and wrong; corporations don’t posses any of these characteristics, which is not good or bad, it just is. For profit businesses, by definition, exist to make a profit. Whether they make their profits by selling iPads, growing vegetables or developing medicine, the end goal is the same, to make a profit. And that is fine. In fact it is great because the profit motive and the resulting marketplace competition spurs continuous product improvement and innovation. However it is up to those men and women which comprise these companies to be the first line of defense in insuring that the quest for profits is mitigated by doing what is right. We do not want to live in a world where iPads are made by indentured labor under unsafe or humane conditions, where our food supply is knowingly tainted by deadly bacteria or where important safety and side effect information for medicines which are supposed to improve the quality of our lives is ignored.
If new information comes to light, say information introduced in 2007 by the UCSD Statin Study group, they have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to seriously and objectively consider that information and act accordingly. Unfortunately, despite national media (NYT & WSJ) picking up on this story, it did not happen. What did happen was that the information was ultimately attacked, trivialized and buried. And with an estimated 40 million individuals in the US now taking a stain (Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor) the ramifications and health related consequences are potentially large.
All that said, nothing is ever clear cut; there are two or more sides to every story and numerous studies have sown that statins extend life. Do not act without guidance from your physician but do have a conversation with him or her. If they ignore or don’t seriously address your questions and concerns then you have the wrong doctor; switch immediately.
“FDA has been investigating reports of cognitive impairment from statin use for several years. The agency has reviewed databases that record reports of bad reactions to drugs and statin clinical trials that included assessments of cognitive function.
The reports about memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion span all statin products and all age groups. Egan says these experiences are rare but that those affected often report feeling “fuzzy” or unfocused in their thinking.
In general, the symptoms were not serious and were reversible within a few weeks after the patient stopped using the statin. Some people affected in this way had been taking the medicine for a day; others had been taking it for years.”
Everything has side effects. Today’s wonder cure is potentially tomorrow’s health crisis. I believe that the vast majority of the men and women who work in pharmaceutical companies are good people who want to help others. That said, the true medium and long term effects of any product are simply unknown until the product is in the marketplace, being used by thousands and thousands of people. We just need to insure that the pharmaceutical companies pass on this data as quickly as possible.
If you are taking any medication and you are experiencing a side effect or reaction, please report it to your doctor and to the FDA -here is a link to their guide for doing just that. Do your part to help keep others safe.]]>
For the last 15 years, the class of drug known as Statins (or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) have been some of the most widely prescribed (25% of all American over the age of 45 take a statin) and most profitable pharmaceutical products available. They lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the liver, thus minimizing the production of cholesterol in an effort to reduce total cholesterol and reduce heart disease.
The problem is that this class of drugs may work too well. Statins are a variation of natural found in red rice yeast, but amped up significantly. They do indeed lower cholesterol significantly but there are unintended side effects such as sever muscle cramping, liver damage and an increased risk of diabetes. Now the FDA has added memory loss and “fogginess” to the list of side effects. As cholesterol is essential to your brain function, is it really surprising that memory loss and “fogginess” are side effects? And what about a connection between the near ubiquitous use of statins and the corresponding rise in type-2 diabetes?
While the FDA should be applauded for issuing a general warning, it is disappointing and frankly suspicious that this occurred just as the statins, Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor are off-patent or about to go off-patent.
If you are taking statins and have been experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, please talk to your doctor before you decide to stop taking your medicine. Just be aware of the unintended consequences and ever broadening side effect profile of these widely prescribed drugs.