Fifteen years ago I wrote an exposé about a class of truly dangerous drugs: cholesterol-lowering statins. Today, conventional doctors continue to prescribe these medications despite the laundry list of statin side effects. I feel as strongly today as I did when I wrote this article in February of 2000 that statins are detrimental to patients’ health—and that safe, natural therapies that effectively lower cholesterol should always be utilized in place of statins.
Statins May Be Making You Sick
We are in the midst of an epidemic of heart failure. The incidence of this chronic condition has almost tripled in the last 15 years and I believe it is primarily due to the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs used by millions of Americans. Even worse, Big Pharma knew this could happen and they knew how to prevent it—yet they did nothing.
When I was in medical school in the 1960s, heart failure was the end stage of heart disease, caused by clogged arteries. The heart, weakened by several heart attacks, simply could not maintain circulation, and fluid pooled in the lungs and in the extremities. But today, heart failure strikes out of the blue—or so it seems.
Statins Deplete the Body of CoQ10
The truth is that much of the blame can be placed on the wholesale promotion and use of the cholesterol-lowering statins, which include Zocor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Lipitor.
Statins block the enzyme pathways involved in the production of cholesterol. Consequently, cholesterol levels go down. But these same enzymes are also required for the production of coenzyme Q10, so blood levels of CoQ10 fall as well. Low levels of CoQ10 are a decided risk. This essential compound is necessary for normal liver function and energy extraction from all of your cells, including your very active heart cells.
I consider the CoQ10 deficiencies caused by the growing use of statins to be in large part responsible for the current epidemic of heart failure. The pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc., which brought the first statin drug to market in 1987, appears to know this as well.
Dangerous Drugs: Merck’s Dirty Little Secret
In 1990, Merck & Co. sought and received two patents for Mevacor and other statins formulated with up to 1,000 mg of coenzyme Q10. This is, according to the patent, “for the avoidance of myopathy as well as the amelioration of myopathy.” (Myopathy, specifically cardiomyopathy, is a common cause of congestive heart failure.) The company holds a second patent for the same formulation “for the avoidance of liver damage…as well as the amelioration of said damage.”
Merck has not brought these combination products to market despite their potential benefit. Nor has Merck educated physicians on the importance of supplementing CoQ10 to offset the dangers of statin drugs to the liver and heart. This strikes me as a heck of a case of product liability.
Imagine: 1) Merck knew that their drug, by blocking the production of CoQ10, could make people seriously ill. 2) They knew that the solution was to fortify their product with CoQ10 to “ameliorate” the problem. 3) The evidence is clear that CoQ10 would help, so they were awarded patents on the fortified formulas. 4) They don’t fortify their products and their patents prevent others from doing so. And we are now in the midst of an epidemic of heart failure.
Heart Failure From Out of the Blue
In 1987, 40-year-old Sam was a busy dentist who was in great health except for a slight elevation in cholesterol. His doctor prescribed Mevacor, which Sam took for 10 years. In 1997, at age 50, he wound up in a cardiologist’s office with life-threatening congestive heart failure. His coenzyme Q10 levels were found to be exceptionally low. Sam was treated successfully with coenzyme Q10, and his Mevacor was immediately discontinued. Did Mevacor play a role in this vigorous individual’s developing a near-fatal congestive heart failure condition? Well, what do you think?
Patients with heart failure have measurable deficiencies in CoQ10, and the degree of disease progression correlates directly with the degree of deficiency—the lower the CoQ10 level, the greater the heart dysfunction. And statins definitely cause declines in CoQ10 levels. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients experienced a 40 percent drop in blood CoQ10 levels while on these dangerous drugs.
Noted cardiologist Peter Langsjoen, MD, writing in The Asia Pacific Heart Journal, warns that this problem is only going to get worse: “The concern over the long-term consequences of statin-induced CoQ10 deficiency is heightened by the rapidly increasing number of patients treated and the increasing dosages and potencies of the statin drugs.”
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Statins
If you are taking a statin drug, discuss alternatives with your physician. Conscientious use of diet, exercise, and targeted nutritional supplementation is extremely effective in the treatment of high cholesterol and heart disease.
If you feel you absolutely must take statins, it is imperative that you add 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily. Ask your physician to obtain a blood level of CoQ10 and raise or lower your dose as necessary to stay within the normal range. A large and growing body of research suggests that supplementing with CoQ10 not only corrects deficiencies in blood and tissue levels of this nutrient, but it may just be our best hope for the prevention and treatment of heart failure and other cardiovascular disorders.
Other contributors to heart failure include diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity, and inactivity. Addressing these challenges today will dramatically improve your health and well-being and reduce your likelihood of developing heart failure in the future.
For more information on the safe, natural treatments we use to lower cholesterol at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (866) 632-8890.