"The issue is that statins consistently lower the coenzyme Q12 levels and create an increase in heart failure," Graney says. "Anyone who takes it is at risk of cardiomyopathy, which is an enlargement of the heart that can lead to heart failure. We were aware that myopathies—general muscle problems—are related to statins but we're starting to figure out that cardiomyopathies are also linked to statins."
Graney bases her assessment of statins on published studies that suggest statins in general lower a patient's levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). She says multiple articles link the use of statins to low levels of coenzyme Q10.
One such study was lead by Karl Folkers and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1990. Although the study may seem old, its findings are relevant for patients today. The study examined the level of coenzyme Q10 in patients who took lovastatin (Mevacor).
Researchers concluded that "administration of lovastatin does indeed lower tissue levels of CoQ10, which may decrease cardiac function to variable degrees." Although the problem might not be pronounced in patients who already have high tissue levels of coenzyme Q10, "people who have low tissue levels of CoQ10 and a modest or poor cardiac function and are treated with lovastatin may be subjected to a possible increased impairment of health and even to a life-threatening status." Furthermore, this risk may be seen in patients who are young or old, and in both men and women.
The problem, Graney says, is that coenzyme Q10 is a protective enzyme, which protects the heart from heart failure. Statins are reportedly found to decrease the levels of coenzyme Q10, so patients on statins who are not supplementing with additional coenzyme Q10 could be at increased risk of heart failure.
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Graney notes that patients who are concerned about statin side effects should speak with their doctor.
Please note: The above information is based on Jennifer Graney's interpretation of published studies concerning statin drugs. It is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Patients who are currently taking statins and are concerned about potential side effects should speak with their doctor.