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Avatar universal

Statin side effects

I've tried statins 4 times since my heart attack last May. I was put on Pravastatin in the hospital and immediately started having muscle weakness, joint pain, bladder pain and urgency. This continued until I took myself off of it. Then the pain and urgency went away. I waited 6 weeks to have labs done and my numbers are higher than they should be considering I'm a heart patient. So, back to the statins and the side effects for the 3rd time. I asked to be tried on a different statin, Simvastatin. Started it on a Thursday and by Friday evening I felt like my lower back was broken. It continued to get worse to the point of me hardly being able to move off the couch for a week. Everything in my body hurt. Of course I quit taking it. My sister went through the same thing with statins and just can not take them. I'm wondering what I can take that's natural. I do take Plavix and a baby aspirin everyday. I know Krill Oil is out. Already checked on that. My Cardiologist is'nt being of much help. He keeps pushing the statins but I'm really afraid of what can happen if I try another one. I am on a pretty strict diet. I've been a vegetarian for many years, so no meat. Fat free organic milk, lots of veggies and fruit. Any advice someone could give me would be great. I'll run it by my Dr first before I try anything. Sorry this post is so long. I'm just at a loss as to what to do to get my numbers where they should be and it looks like I can not take a pharmaceutical statin.  
41 Responses
Avatar universal
Here are Steps that will give you the best chance of living statin free.
The Dean Ornish heart-reversal diet the Ornish diet is better because it
most effectively cleanses the system of excess fat.
The Ornish diet puts no restriction on calorie intake mainly because it’s hard
to consume too many calories eating fruits and vegetables. Aim to keep your calorie intake to 1,500. Maintain your ideal body weight. One way to judge your ideal body weight is by body mass index (BMI). Start exercising five days a week for one hour per day. Walking is generally the best exercise available because it doesn’t place too much stress
on the knees, hips, and back. If you like to run, you may want to mix running into your walks,Tennis, swim, or ride a bike.
You must get plenty of sleep  much more than our culture commonly believes. Not just eight hours a night, but eight to 10 hours on a regular basis. Sleep is the body’s main way of dealing with stress.
Specifically, and lack of sleep results in the liver pumping out excess
cholesterol. Besides sleeping more, it’s important to take additional
measures to reduce stress. The greatest of these is the support of your family. Talk to your husband, or others in your life about
your desire to live in a healthy way. Rely on them for the encouragement and accountability you need.
Slash your cholesterol counts. Remember, there are only two ways to reduce your cholesterol: Stop the production of cholesterol in your liver, or stop its absorption in the small intestine.
Adding supplements to your diet can help reduce cholesterol, but most people have to be at their targets, eating right, and exercising before
supplements can help them stay there.
One supplement works through the liver just like a statin  because it is a statin, a natural one. Mevastatin is produced naturally by red rice yeast. You can add red rice yeast by picking up a container at the health foods store. Be careful of the provider, however. In the past couple of years there have been problems with red rice yeast produced in China. Suppliers were adding pravastatin to their product to heighten its cholesterol-reducing
properties. This posed a health risk as the amount of statin people were taking  unknowingly varied wildly. I recommend Nature's Plus Herbal Actives Red Yeast Rice Extended Release -- 600 mg
You will have to work with your doctor to find the right dosage
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and vitamin B3 (niacin), remain the champions of the supplements. Both fish oil and niacin boost HDL,
plump up LDL particles, and reduce inflammation. Fish oil even has a mild analgesic effect, New evidence is emerging that flaxseed contains
three ingredients that aid in maintaining heart health. Flaxseed is rich with the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, which contain both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities, plus soluble and insoluble fiber. Flaxseed seems to help not only with a person’s cholesterol profile but
even in maintaining heart rhythm. Organic grape juice, apples, and other foods that contain pectin help eliminate cholesterol
through the gut. Garlic has a mild effect.
Avatar universal
I'm wondering if I can take fish oil. Does it thin your blood? Like I mentioned in my post, I do take Plavix and baby aspirin. Yes, I know about flax seed and plan to get some at my local health food store.
Are there websites for the 2 diets you mentioned? I'm willing to read about anything that might help get my numbers down.
You talked about stress and I do believe it can have an effect on your heart, along with genetics, diet, inflammation and lack of exercise. Ive really worked on getting my stress level down since the heart attack. Little things that used to bother me before are really just not that important and not worth stressing over.
159619 tn?1538180937
Sorry to hear of your continued issues, I can understand your frustration. I would take my doctor's advice, if they feel a statin is necessary I would try to stick it out. Since you have heart disease, you need to have your LDL under 70. I had an interesting discussion with my Father's cardiologist last week during a visit to Phoenix, he said that in any person with previous heart disease it is imperative to keep their LDL under 100 at the very least and preferably under 70. How high were your levels?

I agree with much that has been posted above, there are many things you can do to help, however you must remember that you have heart disease and now is the time to attack it aggressively. There are still other drugs to try, including some that are not statins and work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in your intestine, you should ask your doctor about that.

Fish oil will not really lower cholesterol, but ask you doctor for their opinion as you should before starting ANY supplement including Flax Seed oil.

I hope this helps,

Avatar universal
Thank you Jon.
After my last attempt with Simvastatin I am so afraid to try another statin. I hurt so bad that all I could do is lay on the couch and cry. My husband had to help me shower, dress, get on and off the couch.
There is no doubt it was the statin causing all of this. I felt great the day I took it and then the next day the pain started in, like before, only this was the worst by far.
I've talked to 3 different pharmacists who all said the same thing. Your one of the "lucky" ones who can not take a statin. What your feeling with the muscle and joint pain can become permanent.  
I guess it's time to give my Dr a call. His nurse wanted an update on how the Simvastatin worked out so I need to report what happened. I'm just starting to feel much better and my last dose was more than a week and a half ago.
My LDL is almost twice what it should be. Yes, they want it at 70 or below.
I'll talk to him or his nurse about what else I can try that is not a statin. Can you tell me the names of the meds you know about?
Thank you for commenting on my post.
Avatar universal
The Ornish diet I think only from a book store or Library It's in paperback!
Ask your doctor about trying Nature's Plus Herbal Actives Red Yeast Rice Extended Release -- 600 mg.
159619 tn?1538180937
Be careful with Red Yeast Rice as it is the original statin in natural form. You can have the same side effects as a prescription statin. Also, because it is a supplement it is not controlled by the FDA so dosages can vary between pills, brands and bottles.

Avatar universal
Yes, you can have side effects just like with any statin the only way to know is to try it! You still will need a blood test and that will show if it has to be increased or decreased. I recommended Nature's Plus because it's a very good product.
159619 tn?1538180937
I understand what you're saying, but my point is simply this. If you're going to take a statin in the form of a supplement, why not take a prescribed statin that was manufactuered under better controls after having been proven effective by trials, is in an accurate dosage and determined to be safe by the FDA?

Just my two cents................

Avatar universal
Jon, I know what you're saying but if what has been tried and has bad side effects then try something else. As for what the FDA determines what is safe
you know how I feel about them.
1756321 tn?1547095325
As you are a vegetarian, vitamin B12 levels can be low. This in turns elevates homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an inflammation marker. Another inflammation marker is C Reactive Protein. Healthy homocysteine is around 6.3umol/L and healthy CRP is under 1mg/L.

If you have significant internal inflammation, plaque will be deposited as a healing agent regardless of whether you have high or low cholesterol. On the other hand, if you don't have inflammation, high cholesterol levels just keep circulating without getting deposited on the artery linings.

Causes of high cholesterol -

Poor diet (eg: inflammatory trans fats, high omega 6/omega 3 ratio)
Genetic - rare - under 1%
Untreated hypothyroidism  (according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, up to 27 million of Americans may be affected with thyroid disorders. More than 50% are undiagnosed)
Elevated body burden of mercury
Chronic systemic fungal infections

Check out a video on youtube: Ginger: An Extraordinary Spice to Combat Heart Disease. It goes through the real causes of heart disease - inflammation and oxidation NOT cholesterol.
1756321 tn?1547095325
I meant high omega 6/LOW omega 3 ratio. Omega 6 promotes chronic inflammation.  Omega 3 is an anti inflammatory. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega 6 than omega 3. Omega 3 is also highly recommended.
Avatar universal
Hello Red_Star, The problem with Omega 6 is they put it in everything!
Just like Soy they put it in everything even listed as an ingredient in some tea bags.  
1756321 tn?1547095325
Hi. :)  So true. They like to sneak in trans fat too! The so called 0% transfat packages are allowed to contain 0.5% of transfat per serving. If that product contains 20 servings, that is 10 grams of transfat in your 0% transfat labelled package! Crazy lol.

63984 tn?1385437939
I'm not a health professional, but I've fought the battle with cholesterol since the late 1990's.
I disagree with a poster that indicated that genetic tendencies to have high cholesterol levels are rare.  It would be news in my family group!  I certainly agree that exercise and diet are very important to reducing cholesterol.  In my case, I had very low HDL levels (28) and very high LDL levels (300+) and out of sight Trig levels (400+).  I was afraid of statins, so totally turned my lifestyle around and exercised, and took all the popular 'natural' products.   HDL level rose and my LDL level dropped by 1/3, and my Trig levels dropped about 70%.  However, that still left me with relatively poor scores, and a series of heart attacks and stents followed.  I took statins successfully, both a statin to control familial and dietary cholesterol, and now my cholesterol levels are almost perfect.
In my experience, fish oil is a powerful blood thinner when taken long term.  I also live where wild salmon is mixed in the diet about twice a week as well, and my blood is so thin I'm now having excessive bruising as an actual condition.  I'm to take fish oil only if we don't have salmon on the table once or twice a week. I was taking 2000 mg daily.

Avatar universal
Please go to amazon at a glance to see the rating review from the consumers to the seller - selling natural cholesterol reducer. It helps me and other with a wonderful results and not showing any side affect to myself.
Please see for yourself.
Avatar universal
Flycaster. I'm not sure if you meant me saying genetics do not play a big part in high cholesterol.That is'nt the case because my mother had a 4 way bi-pass at 57 and my younger sister had a heart attack and 2 stents at 45. They both had higher than normal cholesterol. Mine has always been good, lower than the guide lines, until I had the heart attack. My first lipid labs were higher than normal.
I'm not sure if I can take fish oil because I take Plavix and baby aspirin. I'll have to ask my Dr about that.
I'm really wondering if anyone else has this kind of problem with statins. It has been absolutely horrible for me. And the last one I took, Simvastin, I thought would kill me. People do die from prescription meds.
So, that's why I'm asking all of you what I can do. Yes, I am a vegetarian and I have thought about that and upped my B vitamins.I was pretty bad about forgetting to take my vitamins. No longer! I take them every day. My diet was good before but I've become even more strict about what I eat.
I do appreciate your recommending red yeast rice Gymdandee but if it works like a statin I have to admit, I'm very afraid to try it.
You have all been so great and supportive with lots of great ideas. It feels good to come here and get so much support.  
Avatar universal
With your statins problems, I definitely would look for an expert on lipids management.

New views give less importance to reduce the LDL cholesterol and more importance to reduce the AlipoProtein B.

And for doing that there are different drugs, and statins, if used, only in low doses.

You might be interested in reading this:


Avatar universal
Thank you Jrbon. I really do like this forum because I'm learning so much from all of you, and I have learned a lot that I did'nt know about. I'll check out the website you gave me. Thank you.
Avatar universal
Unless you have experienced the full brunt of side effects from statins, you can not state "just stick it out".  The side effects are unbearable.  I finally asked my doctor  if it was really healthier that i went from someone who worked out at the gym 5 days a week to someone gobbling pain medicine and laying on the couch.  I had no life on the meds and so, I opted to take the risk.  I very very slowly (to minimize flushing) worked myself up to 1500 mgs of niacin twice a day and my HDL is through the roof and my LDL, while high. is the less dangerous buoyant fluffy kind.  Ill have to take my chances with this improvement as on statins, I simply had no quality of life - and I had taken huge dose of COQ10 with them AND tried (and could not tolerate) the red yeast rice.
Avatar universal
Unless you have experienced the full brunt of side effects from statins, you can not state "just stick it out".  The side effects are unbearable.  I finally asked my doctor  if it was really healthier that i went from someone who worked out at the gym 5 days a week to someone gobbling pain medicine and laying on the couch.  I had no life on the meds and so, I opted to take the risk.  I very very slowly (to minimize flushing) worked myself up to 1500 mgs of niacin twice a day and my HDL is through the roof and my LDL, while high. is the less dangerous buoyant fluffy kind.  Ill have to take my chances with this improvement as on statins, I simply had no quality of life - and I had taken huge dose of COQ10 with them AND tried (and could not tolerate) the red yeast rice.
159619 tn?1538180937
I'm sorry to hear of your issues, however your experience is the vast minority of those who take statins. A trained medical professional has weighed the risk verses benefit for this individual and determined statins were the best treatment given their overall risk. This individual has heart disease and a recent heart attack and still has high cholesterol, I think it warrants trying to stick it out as much as possible, many have a reduction in the side effects after a couple weeks.

Concerning Niacin, don't be too satisfied with your results. Recent studies have found that the HDL particles created by Niacin do NOT have the same protective characteristics as naturally occurring HDL particles. You may find this interesting;


In short, you may have a false sense of security with your chemically induced high HDL and assumed high LDL. You should discuss this with your doctor.

Avatar universal
Dcordes, you are the first person I've heard from on this forum that has had the most debilitating side effects from statins the same as I did. Those side effects started the day after I took my first dose in the hospital and never let up.Tylenal and the couch were becoming my best friends. I've tried 4 times and every time it gets worse. This last time had me, my husband and my family very scared because I was so sick and could hardly function. Now that I'm off of them, it's taken almost 3 weeks, I'm slowly getting better and able to be much more active. Like you, I was having no quality of life because I hurt and was nauseous all of the time. I did see my family Dr last Friday and he told me he would not go against my Cardiologist but if it he were in my shoes and had been through everything I have, he would not try taking another statin. He talked about a condition some people can get from a statin that can be permanent.  
Avatar universal
Jon. I so appreciate your concern and all of your help. Your such a caring person and have always answered all of my posts and messages. I really wish I did'nt have these side effects from the statins. My cholesterol numbers are a big concern to me and the last in the world I want to happen to me is another heart attack. I do plan to get with my Cardiologist soon to talk about other options and to get labs done again. I've been ever more strict about my diet and since being off the statins I can be so much more active. I'm still working on how I deal with stress, which is much better I'm happy to say.
1843959 tn?1324629150
Sorry for hear that you are suffering with such a diseas .I know how you feel because i have a heart disease when i was 17years old .But now ,i'm 23years old and my heart disease have never relapse again .Do you believe Chinese herb medicine ? Do you know anything about honey bolus ? If you're not ,i hope you could try to know more about it .
Without any side effects ,Chinese herb medicine always build a whole body organize .Not just cure one disease ,bring back another disease .Build up your immune systerm frist when you use it for cure the heart disease .I have to say that i'm a Chinese ,i always trust our traditional medicine ,but the fact is it always working .I don't suggest that only use the herb medicine or western medicine ,mix them will be better .

Hope you could get better soon !

Best regards!
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