Statins work by inhibiting the enzyme methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. They prevent the production of mevalonate from HMG-CoA. The body converts mevalonate to cholesterol and a variety of other products. One of the things that melvalonate produces is Coenzyme Q 10; so these drugs ultimately prevent the production of coenzyme Q 10. Patients taking these drugs commonly experience exercise intolerance, myalgia and myoglobinuria. Studies show that these drugs have the potential to cause myopathies and rhabdomyolysis with renal failure. The FDA has warned about liver failure in conjunction with these drugs. These more serious side effects occur in about 1% of the population taking the drugs.
A study published in the journal Diabetes Wellness (May 2005;11(5):4) showed that giving coenzyme Q 10 to patients who take statins reduces muscle pain. Subjects received either 400 IU of vitamin E or 100 mg. of coenzyme Q 10. Eighteen of the 21 subjects receiving the coenzyme Q 10 (90%) experienced pain relief; this compared to three patients out of 20 in the vitamin E group. Coenzyme Q 10 levels decrease after taking a statin drug. In the June, 2000 issue of Archives of Neurology a study was published that showed a reduction in coenzyme Q 10 levels after the subjects took 80 mg. of a statin drug. The mean blood level of coenzyme Q 10 in the 34 participating subjects went from 1.2 mcg/ml to .62 mcg/ml.
The heart contains high levels of coenzyme Q 10 and these levels are found to be lower in people suffering from congestive heart failure. According to an article appearing in The Lancet (1998;352(Suppl. 1):39-41) notes that the incidence of heart failure has dramatically increased in the last three or four decades. The prevalence of heart failure has increased by 70% between 1990 and 2000.
Research on pravastatin appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 18, 2002;288:1998-3007,3042-3044) shows that the drug does indeed lower cholesterol, but does not reduce the risk of death or heart disease in those with moderately high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
There are a number of studies that show that statin drugs may affect behavior, leading to aggressive behavior or depression. Research appearing in the journal Psychosmatic Medicine (1994 Nov-Dec;56:479-84) links aggressive behavior and depression to low cholesterol It has been postulated that there may be a connection between cholesterol and serotonin.
There are nearly 13 million patients taking statins, and many having serious side-effects. It is worthwhile to take a look at what these drugs do and to take the simple step of giving patients on these drugs coenzyme Q 10.