Statins: Hi, my GP said it is very important... - AF Association

AF Association

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Hi, my GP said it is very important for me to take statins. I have tried 3 different brands of statins and with all I get pain in my thighs when walking. My pace has slowed down gradually since having AF. I miss going on a brisk walk. I don’t know if this is AF related or from taking statins. I have stopped taking them to find out if I get an improvement but so far only the pain has gone

I would like to hear if everyone else has to take statins My colesterol was 5.3 without them. My GP would like it to be 2.

Thank you for your help

71 Replies

My cholesterol is exactly the same as yours. Yesterday I visited the Dr at their request after having my six monthly blood test for Apixaban. He tried to convince me yet again to take cholesterol tablets. I have decided to try again to get the number down to under 5 by diet, exercise etc, then if not maybe think about statins next year, kind regards Heather

emsling in reply to gemsmum

Thank you. I hope you will get under 5.

Tapanac in reply to gemsmum

Oh My EP is thinking of changing me from Rivaroxaban to Apixaban. I don't have to have any blood tests with Rivaroxaban (Xalreto), so do you have to have them with Apixaban??? Thank you

lallym in reply to Tapanac

You have to have liver and kidney function tested every 6 to 12 months.

Tapanac in reply to lallym

Oh thankyou

gemsmum in reply to Tapanac

Yes I have mine tested every 6 months, it’s no problem though.

SJB1234 in reply to Tapanac

Hi I am apixaban and do not have to have blood tests

Auriculaire in reply to gemsmum

Statins have never been shown to benefit women in primary prevention. Recent large epidemiological studies from Scandinavia show that women with high cholesterol live longest . Doctors get paid for meeting certain targets ie to prescribe certain meds for certain conditions. Cholesterol levels are one . It is a scandal. Blood levels for acceptable cholesterol just go down. Now that all statins are off patent the only way the drugs companies can continue to make money out of them is to up the volume of consumers.

gemsmum in reply to Auriculaire

Thank you Auriculaire for the information.

Ren912 in reply to Auriculaire

You are correct. I would never take statins. They are a multibillion dollar business for big Pharma, and doctors push them for kickbacks (which they deny) .

JGBH in reply to Auriculaire

Would you be able to give me a website link showing the Scandinavian research paper re: use of statins by women? Apologies to emsling for highjacking her post.

Auriculaire in reply to JGBH

Sorry - it is several months since I read this and I did not bookmark it! There might be some mention of it on THINCS ( cholesterol sceptics site) or at Zoe Harcombe ( paywall) or Malcolm Kendrick. It has been known for donkey's years that women naturally have higher cholesterol than men . Women are obviously not done down by this as they live longer. If statins have any benefit at all it is nothing to do with their cholesterol reducing powers as other drugs which reduce cholesterol have been complete failures in reducing mortality. Not that they weren't dished out aplenty till statins came along. The false cholesterol hypothesis will probably take another couple of decades to die - when all those professors in teaching hospitals who took kickbacks from Pharma are dead.

JGBH in reply to Auriculaire

Thank you for replying. Best wishes.


Thanks to Tony Blair's administration in UK doctors are paid to have patients on treatment for lots of things and statins are one of them as is BP medication. Nobody can force you to do anything. I took them for years but stopped about a year and a half ago when my leg cramps got so bad . Can't recall the author but there is a great book "Too Many Pills" worth reading. I normally support doctors in their attempts to treat me but there are limits.

emsling in reply to BobD

Thank you. I did read a lot about statins. I am taking plantsterols at the moment and will see after my next blood test. But my joints are very stiff too. Looks like that is irreversible

Auriculaire in reply to emsling

I would look into how plant sterols are manufactured if I were you.

Bagrat in reply to Auriculaire

Oh no not something else I have to research, tell me more....

Auriculaire in reply to Bagrat

I remember reading about this quite a while ago. I do not remember the details but was so revolted by what I read I thought that was one thing I would never eat - it was some sort of margarine that had plant sterols to help reduce cholesterol.

Bagrat in reply to Auriculaire

I take 1 pill for that reason and really just to hedge my bets as suggested dose 3. But I am not at all sure from what I read that cholesterol is the bad guy in most circumstances.

Auriculaire in reply to Bagrat

I do not believe that cholesterol is a bad guy at all. It is vital to life and reducing it with poisons is misguided to put it politely.

redshock11 in reply to BobD

Are doctors paid to prescribe apixaban too?

BobDVolunteer in reply to redshock11

no. that actually is for your own good.

I have a similar count to yours and a few years ago the GP said I should go on statins and I said no thanks. I asked my HF practitioner (I have heart failure as well as AF) and she said it was up to me, she said my levels were borderline and she thought it best not to, . One of the reasons I said no is that my husband takes a statin and since then he has had joint pain and stiffness which is getting worse (he has been on them for about 4 years now). It is probably a combination of the statins and age, but mainly the statins. I keep trying to persuade him to come off them but his GP is not keen,I think at the time he was put on them his levels were quite low but he was put on blood pressure tablets and GP just added the statins in for good measure!!!! I also have arthritis so I do not want any more joint pain. I know many people do complain of joint pain when taking statins. I would rather keep things under control with diet.


Ren912 in reply to cassie46

My brother in law took statins developed joint pain and stopped them. Apparently he had to slowly ease off them. Pain better.

Thank you Cassie. I too have arthritis. The thigh pain on top is too much. I will see if taking plantsterols get my level down.

HI, like you i was on statins bad pains in my arms and legs,i was lucky saw a neurologist who took me off them as they was wasting away my muscles

regards Colin

CDreamer in reply to webboc

Interesting that neurologists don’t worry about ‘raised’ cholesterol levels as much. Mine also advised against statins.

I don't know if it is commonplace for doctors in the UK to break down the results of your test into good and bad cholesterol - you can have a high overall reading but that can be because your good cholesterol is high. I have high cholesterol but it is hereditary and all the diets in the world will not change that. My reading was six but it went down to 3.6 which she considered too low, as we need some cholesterol, so I was put on onto a tablet every other day, it was 4.8 last fasting test, but I'm getting pain in my thigh and calves now so I'm testing to see if it is improving by stopping them for a while - if it does I will get her to prescribe something else - she did mention there was an alternative to statins. I'm in South Africa.

RexH in reply to pusillanimous

Interesting, I have type 1 diabetes as well as having ablation for af, and my cholesterol was 6.1 last time I saw diabetes specialist, and he said I had more good then bad cholesterol and he did not recommend Staten's .

I am in Australia

Auriculaire in reply to CDreamer

Maybe because of the high level of cholesterol in our brains?

Creating the ‘High’ Cholesterol Myth - Why Your Cholesterol Level is Normal and NOT High.

Justin Smith May 28, 2016

Pharmaceutical companies and those people in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies have altered the definition of high cholesterol in order to increase the number of people who are eligible to take cholesterol medications. This article explains how many people who have been told they have ‘high’ cholesterol, in fact have a normal cholesterol level.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were told anything above 250 mg/dl (6.5 mmol/l) was too high. And over the last few years the threshold has progressively been lowered and lowered - each time without scientific evidence to support the lowering of the threshold, and each time the decision to lower the threshold being taken by experts with links to the companies that make statins. Of course, each time the threshold is lowered, millions more people become eligible for cholesterol-lowering medications - massively increasing the market size for the drugs.

And in fact, despite all the hype about cholesterol, many industrialised countries around the world have seen a significant reduction in the average cholesterol level and even greater reductions in the number of people with so called “high” cholesterol - before the widespread use of statins!

For example, in the United States, the number of people with a cholesterol level above 240 mg/dl (6.2 mmol/l) in 2002 was around half the number in 1962. A similar trend can be seen in England.

The general perception is that people in industrialised countries have high cholesterol as a result of poor lifestyle choices. First of all, the cholesterol level has not risen - it was already falling before the widespread use of statins. Secondly, cholesterol levels are not high, but normal for most people. Thirdly, people with heart disease have the same average cholesterol levels as healthy people. And the fourth point is that cholesterol lowering does not reduce the risk of heart disease.

For example in the UK, between 1994 and 2006 the percentage of men aged 65 to 74 with ‘high’ cholesterol decreased from 87% to 54%. Despite this, the rate of coronary heart disease for this age group stayed about the same. Other age groups have experienced an increase in the rate of heart disease as the number of people with ‘high’ cholesterol has decreased.

Those with vested interests have done a really good job of confusing people about normal cholesterol levels and created a huge amount of unnecessary fear about cholesterol solely for the purpose of turning healthy people into patients.


My arteries are pretty clear.

I had an AFIB stroke and the doctors made a big push to take statins.

I asked why if I have no build up?

No clear answer.

I can't tolerate statins very well so I take Red Rice Yeast.

I eat a plant based diet and use flax seed oil and olive oil for my fats.

I get a good cholesterol number and ratio even though my total is high.

My brother has 45% blockage in his coronary arteries and his doctor said he would drop him as a patient if he didn't start taking statins.

I think your overall physical shape and health come into play but some people can't tolerate them.

Raoudha in reply to jwsonoma

Please may I ask you what dosage of statines your brother take l have 45% blocage to and I me one atrovastatine 10 and baby aspirine thank U

jwsonoma in reply to Raoudha

I beleive it is lipitor. He went on a low fat vegan diet following Dr. John McDougal and Dr Dean Ornish (check Goggle) 4 years ago and his arteries are pretty much clear. He did an Ironman for his 60th birthday. His doctor is still insisting on a statin.

Raoudha in reply to jwsonoma

All the best

I totally agree with Bazillion. The only (alleged) empirical evidence put forward for statins come from the producers of the medication. My levels are 6.2 and over the years the different doctors have tried to prescribe statins, but I have resisted, and refused to take these. I recently went to see our new doctor, a very nice Japanese lady who stated that my levels were exactly the same as they were 20 years ago so just ignore it. If I had a stroke or heart attack they would look differently into the situation. Apparently, the heart attack rate is just as high in people with low cholesterol? I know that not everyone goes to a doctor due to one reason or another. I would speculate that if you got all the 80 plus people who do not go to the doctors frequently that most would have high cholesterol?? My question then would be 'how are they still living' ???

I have tried two different statins against my better judgement. They did reduce my cholesterol but I could not put up with the aches.( my total cholesterol was about 7 then and went down to 5.2 in a month), haven't checked since. My husband takes them and I am convinced they caused mild cognitive impairment for him. I persuaded him to see GP and his dose was halved two years ago with no increase in his cholesterol. Incidentally after a faint he has had 2 anti hypertensives stopped and a third dose halved. Pills are not always the answer. I do eat fairly healthily but love butter. There are pretty graphs your GP will show you on how cholesterol can be reduce by meds. I'm 74 and would rather feel well and take the rather small (in my opinion) increased risk.

My cardiologist said I should be on stations as I have a slight build up in one of my arteries but I refused as my reading was low. When he wrote to my gp he was insistent so I was prescribed 40mg atorvastatin which sent my insomnia through the roof, so I stopped we've now had to change doctors (surgery closure) and the new Dr tried again. Apparently it's not my 'bad' cholesterol which is the problem, it's the 'good' I was persuaded to give

20 mg a try, taking it at lunch time instead of bedtime. I have been suffering with painful shoulders and other joints but can't tell if it's arthritis or statin so will stop again and see if I improve


I'm an old geezer in my sixties and have led a fairly normal 'child of the fifties' life.

I've been overweight for the last 45 years and although my collestrol levels were low (5-6) my doctor and I thought it might be worth starting on statins in a feeble attempt to aid weight loss. (reasoning may be nonsense, but there you go)

My experiences were similar to yours, in that I would have the occasional muscle cramp gradually becoming more frequent until I'd go back to the doctor and we'd try another type.

Atorvastatin, Simvastatin, were two, I forget the third.

With them all, the same thing happened. Things would be fine and then cramps. However, one morning I awoke to cramps in all four limbs. I was unable to get off the bed and endured a good two to three minutes of agony until the cramps subsided (It felt like hours). I think I eventually managed to roll of the bed and in doing so was able to deal with the problem with the usual push against the wall, try to stand and force the muscle to relax techniques.

Needless to say that was the end of statins for me and no mistake.

"Stupid idea," thinks I, "who thought taking statins would reduce weight,".

However, some time later I had a heart attack and subsequent bypass. Panic not, I don't think there was a relationship. It was all the child of the fifties stuff mentioned above. Chips, chips and more chips, lamb and pork crackling, "beef dripping" butties.

In my defence, don't forget in the fifties and sixties most people never expected to live beyond seventy and beef dripping butties were all the rage - Hey pass me the salt, I can't taste the chips in this butty what with all this butter running down my chin.

Following my operation, we needn't worry about the complications here, :) the hospital doctors (knowing my dissatisfaction with the whole idea of statins) persuaded me to try again with Rosuvastatin. I've been on it now for nearly two years with no adverse effects.

I personally take it last thing at night (that may be the way it's supposed to be taken never checked). Oddly (no really) when you've been whisked into a heart operation, what I found/find, is that doctors with a lot more knowledge that your average GP, can persuade you to stand on your head and sing the national anthem.

In conclusion have you tried Rosuvastatin?

Brilliant post. Thank you for making my Sunday start with me laughing.

Denise- in reply to theendisnigh

I'm on rosuvastatin now after years trying other statins and seems to be much better. The orthopedic surgeon told me my muscles had been badly damaged by the other statins! Try to sort one thing and cause another 😯

emsling in reply to theendisnigh

Thank you. This reply made my day. My last try was rosuvastatin and the pain was worse with them. I did have stroke 3 years ago and it does worry me to have another one.

I did quite a lot of research on statins when my cholesterol total went up to 7.2 and found this number is not the whole story - my HDL:LDL was perfect and my Triglycerides levels were good. I refused statins and changed my diet to include a lot more fat (avoiding the so called ‘bad’ fats) the and protein in my diet and my cholesterol stays under control at around 6 and I am more than happy with that and so is my doctor. My neurologist likes levels and thinks they are ok - better for the brain.

There are some people with familial high cholesterol who do need to take statins - you will find a lot more info on the cholesterol forum and about a 50:50 split in use of statins.

Pacific in reply to CDreamer

Yes, I have genetically high cholesterol and I was prescribed 10mg Lipitor in the US, in 2005. When I lived in UK no one had deemed it to be a problem. We lived in UK briefly in 2009 and GP prescribed 80 mg Simvistatin! I told her I was only going to take half that dose. Months later I read that this dose was unsafe. I think dosage should always be mentioned on these posts because in my layperson brain you would assume that the higher the dose then the more chance of side effects. When I had a stroke in 2015 (back in Blighty), I paid to see an EP and he said that taking a statin for 10 years ( with no side effects) had probably saved me from a more serious stroke. I’m vegetarian and eat lots of fruit and veggies and am very fit, but my genes don’t want to cooperate, so there it is!

I refuse to take statins if they create a worse QOL ( quality of life )

Mine has been 4.2 / 4.6 for over 15 years and since beginning Flecainide I reduced

atorvastatin to 5mg to stop the leg pain thats 3 years ago and my numbers havent increased .

I have had to discontinue it totally now as it reacts badly with empagliflozin - diabetic drug

Dr Sanjay Gupta has some thoughts on this .

Number 3 i think covers statins.

My cholesterol was 5.2 on my last test with no mention of taking statins. I wouldn’t want them as I already have enough aches and pains.

There are many conflicting views on cholesterol and statins.

How can a result of 2 be normal?


Hi Emsling

My GP tried to get me to take statins earlier this year because my ratio was 5.9. I tried them but after only 5 days I developed severe pain in my left leg. I am a keen walker with strong leg muscles, so this was something of a surprise. After reading up about statins, I realised this was a known side effect. So I stopped taking them but it took about 3 days fir the pain to stop.

Getting patients to take statins is a government led initiative, so the more patients on statins, the more funding the GP gets.

Filling a quoto is not sufficient motivation for me to take something that gives me pain. I shall stick to my dietary changes.

my ratio was 3.4 .. Dr looked very disappointed and said I should really be taking statins

5.3 cholest. is ok. I refuse to take it, it only encourages diabetes anyway. So long as you

keep very active you'll be fine. Remember your body needs cholesterol, not too much that's all. And watch your diet !!

My cholesterol is up to 6.5 , but I have more "Good" cholesterol than "bad" . Oddly no one at my GP surgery is telling me to go on statins!??

CDreamer in reply to KMRobbo

Depends on the surgery but ours don’t ‘red flag’ until you go over 7.

Hi emsling

My wife was put on statins as her cholesterol was slightly high. The first lot gave her no problems but the nurse changed her to a different one because it may cause her muscle pain. The second one put her in hospital for 2 weeks and gave her a water infection. She could hardly walk for that period until they found out the cause. She is now back on a lower dose of the first statin as one of her arteries is 90% blocked and the doctor says this will help. Up to date she has no major effect. They take a while to get out of the system so beware and don't take them if they cause you problems, some do. Don't forget however old age does sometimes come in to the equation. Sorry about that but just true.

Good luck for the future.


CDreamer in reply to Flyer2820

One of the ways statins help is to reduce inflammation - any inflammation within the body will increase serum cholesterol which the body produces to help ‘heal’. Trouble occurs when too much cholesterol is produced which narrows the vessels, very little cholesterol comes from diet - it’s how your body responds to what you eat.

Reduce inflammation & cholesterol levels go down, usually.

I take Pravastatin and I stress that my cholesterol has never been high,(4.8 at that time, but now 3.6) but when I was taken into hospital by ambulance 11 times before last Christmas (tachycardic Afib), the hospital doctors automatically put me on them. Touch wood I have not had any aches or pains with them. I did ask my GP and cardiologist should I come off of them as my cholesterol readings fine, but they both said that at my age (74) it was protecting me further!!!!

All I would say is that when one considers how many thousands and thousands of people take statins, there seems to be far fewer people suffering with side effects and writing about it, it would seem.

However as always that is just my opinion.

I do hope you are sorted out and your pains lessen.

Alessa69 in reply to Tapanac

We are both on Pravastatin as well... My husband had previously major problems when prescribed Simvastatin. Pravastatin is a less aggressive, gentler statin according to our Cardiologist , fortunately it works well for both of us! Everyone reacts differently, so always ask questions& don’t be fobbed off !

I agree with everything above - avoid taking statins if at all possible. I believe they do more harm than good. Just ask your GP whether if he/she takes them. The answer I got recently, was "no way !" I ask every doctor the same question, and have yet to find one who takes them. Prescribe them, yes - take the monetary incentive, yes - but do not let them pass your lips! Quite soon, I believe someone may recognise a link between statins, alzheimers and diabetes. So many of my statin-taking friends have become dull, aching, listless, non-exercise-taking people. "It's just the ageing process" No it's not! If you suffer side effects, like I did, report them on the official site, and build up a data base. Don't just accept another version of a statin in the hope they may "work". I feel so much better now . . . . . : -)

From "Heart UK - the cholesterol charity":

"What cholesterol results should you expect?

In order to understand the risk that cholesterol poses to your health it is important to know all your numbers: Your surgery may only tell you there is nothing to worry about or they may only give you your total cholesterol (TC) figure. Be sure to ask them for all the results they have and keep a note of them. As a minimum you should know your total cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol (explained below). Don't worry if you get a high result as a diagnosis of high cholesterol cannot usually be made from the results of just one test. In the UK all cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/L) but in some countries they are measured in milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl). You can find out how to convert between these measures here.

Total Cholesterol (TC) - this is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood. Ideally it should be 5 mmol/L* or less

Non HDL-Cholesterol this is your total cholesterol minus your HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) and is the sum all the "bad" cholesterols added together (including LDL cholesterol) - ideally it should be 4 mmol/L* or less

LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) - this is the amount of LDL-cholesterol), ideally it should be 3 mmol/L* or less

HDL-Cholesterol (HDL-C) - the amount of good cholesterol, ideally it should be over 1 mmol/L* (men) and over 1.2 mmol/L* (women).

TC:HDL ratio This is the TC figure divided by the HDL-C figure. A ratio above 6 is considered high risk - the lower this figure is the better.

Triglyceride (TG) this represent your body's ability to clear fat from the blood after a meal. Ideally it should be less than 1.7 mmol/L* on a fasting sample or less than 2.3 mmol/L on a non fasting sample) ​

** mmol/L stands for millimoles per litre"

Not being a doctor I have no idea if this is the definitive guide- other websites inc BHF & the NHS ,are very vague about it (I am sure they were not so vague 5 years ago!). NHS says if you are over 7.5 you should be tested for familial hypercholesterolaemia. which does need treating.

Anyway going back to the original post unless the 5.5 is the bad cholesterol rather than total and assuming you don't have the familial hypercholesterolaemia then I don't understand.


Statins prevent the body from making CoQ10, which is essential. Hence the muscle pain. There are two obvious solutions: take CoQ10, or stop taking statins.

CoQ10 can be bought from a Health Food Shop, but choose a reputable make.

Statins decrease inflammation, so some doctors recommend taking them to decrease inflammation in people with other problems, eg AF!

emsling in reply to Polski

I have been taking CoQ10 since my first statin prescription but I still had all the muscles pain .

Polski in reply to emsling

You could try a different make and strength, before dismissing this completely.

I walk very slowly now too, and don't know why, but have never taken statins. Some of the drugs for AF can cause this eg Bisoprolol. (I also have arthritis in my hip, so that doesn't help!)

Also, if less blood is getting round the system because the heart is not pumping so effectively, then we will have less energy, and this could cause us to walk more slowly.

cassie46 in reply to Polski

See my post above re my husband, I did manage to persuaded him to take CoQ10 about 1 year ago but it has made no difference to his aches and pains.


Our GP told my wife whose cholesterol is over 6 that the present advice to GP's that he had on his wall is to advise the patient of the benefits and risks of statins and let them make their own decision. My wife knowing the muscular problems that I had will not take them.

He by the way took them for years and has now stopped while his family history indicates that he should be taking them.

2.0 sounds a ridiculously low figure to try to get to.

Statins ????? Check it out.

Is it true Statin cause Dimentia


That’s seems to be the topic of discussion

In Australia.

Nurse put me on statins and i could not move my left arm after a fortnight came off them and it took a year to get the strength back in my arm. She tried to get me back on them and I asked if the practice got paid to get patients onto these she never replied and has never mentioned them again!!

Consultant cardio told me that I had familial c. when they found I had a significant blockage in the lad .... which is why I take atorvastatin and ezetimibe. Not going into detail it's been a good combination for me (wonder why?)

Another article

I cannot vouch for how true any of this is but it makes interesting reading

What medication are you taking for AF as I understand with Sotalol one of the side effects can be aching legs. So I just adjust my exercise to accommodate this problem.

emsling in reply to Mike-tyson

Only Apixaban and Blood pressure meds

2!!! How many people have a cholesterol level of 2???!!

Sounds unrealistic to me.

I haven;t had time to read all your replies, but just to say I am avoiding taking statins, because my chol level lurks around 5. The BHF said it should be 4 because of AF. However, I have already had to give up red wine and try and cut down , or out, lots of food I really enjoy. I try hard to eat healthily.......most of the time, but we all need treats!

Two of the things I can still do and enjoy is walking and riding my bike (flat surface only!!), I do get a bit SOB ,of course, but the last thing I want is leg cramps and pain!. My Con, seems to think I don't have to be too strict with the diet, so I will push on with that for now!

BTW I weigh 9 stone so hardly overweight!

it seems to be standard when you have stents inserted that everyone is put on 80mg of Statin, in my case Atorvastatin, over the last few months with discussions with my Dr I have gradually reduced them down to 20mg, prior to my visit to hospital my cholesterol was 4.6 now down to 3.5, due another blood test in January.

Hi Emsling, I was exactly the same I stopped taking statins and the pain eased, the Dr insisted I try again and sure enough the pain came back. I spoke to my cardiologist and explained I could not take the pain in all my joints and he has prescribed ezetimibe 10mg.

This medication works on the lipids without affecting muscle and joints, I have been taking this for 3 months and so far not a bit of pain. Hope you get it sorted.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

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