Cholesterol Support
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Statins and Fibromyalgia

Four years ago following having a stent, I was given statins. Over the course of a year I tried every statin and other cholesterol lowering drug, before my consultant agreed I was intolerant of them all and took me off them. Each one caused severe muscle pain and exhaustion combined with other symptoms which prevented me from taking any real exercise. Once off the drugs I gradually improved over the course of the following 9 months, but then started to experience muscle pain and fatigue again. I had blood tests done and the end result was a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which is given only after the elimination of other conditions. I would be interested to discover whether there is either some genetic or causal link between my intolerance to statins and the development of fibromyalgia? Did I have an underlying myalgia when trialling the statins or did the statins trigger the condition? Perhaps I am just genetically prone to develop this condition. I guess I'll never know, but would be interested to hear others' experiences of long term muscle pain and fatigue which has either continued or recurred after stopping statins.

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First consider the mechanism by which statins work; they impair the function of the liver.

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And deplete Co-Q10 and Magnesium, which is probably related to Fibromyalgia.

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If you go over to the Fibromyalgia site on HU, you could ask members for their experiences. It does look as though there may be a connection.

healthunlocked.com/fibromya...

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I think there is a hole in your logic. You said that every statin caused you muscle pain and exhaustion - but after you stopped using them you still had muscle pain and exhaustion and was then finally diagnosed with fibromyalga. My logic would tell me then that maybe there is a strong possibility that the statins had nothing to do with your muscle pains and exhaustion. Muscle pains and exhaustion don't kill you as quickly and silently as a blocked artery - I would be looking at going back onto the statins. I have had extremely high cholesterol for over 30 years - and was finally diagnosed with calcification of my arteries caused by excess plaque in the arteries. I went onto a low dose of Crestor (5 mg) and with other changes to my diet, I reduced my cholesterol level by more than 50% in 3 months. I will be sticking to this dosage of Crestor and a 100 mg aspirin each day forever now ( at age 70)

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If you read it again you will see that I said that the pain and exhaustion improved after stopping statins and then recurred almost a year later. Nothing to do with logic.

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Sorry - I did miss the bit about improving AFTER coming off the drugs. However, this could still be coincidental . What dosage of statins were you taking.

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Thanks Bazza. I was on the starting dose for each one I tried, with breaks of 2-3 weeks in between each drug, during which symptoms improved. As you say it could all be coincidental. I just felt it was strange, having never suffered these symptoms before in my life, for me to develop fibro, which has identical symptoms, so soon after the trials of statins and wondered whether anyone else had had a similar experience.

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Many illnesses are caused by inflammation in the body. Sugar and a diet that is high in simple carbohydrates - ie. white bread, pizza, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes, packaged goods with hidden sugars - contributes significantly to inflammation in the body.

Consider taking a CRP test which measures inflammation and while your at it, get the hb-AIC test to determine your blood sugar level average for the last 3 months; also have the fasting blood sugar tested.

This might lead you down the path of altering your diet to improve your health.

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Rice, pasta, potatoes and bread, if we eliminated the four from weekly food what other options do we have?

Some people eat rice and beans, potatoes and beans bread and beans, pasta with veg!

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This is how I have adopted my diet to avoid the high GI foods that you have mentioned, replacing them with low GI replacements) . White rice is replaced by brown rice or barley ( however my understanding is that white Basmati rice is low GI) . Pasta normally made from white flour is replaced by wholemeal pasta. Potatoes are replaced by sweet potatoes. White bread is replaced by high quality ( an expensive) whole grain breads which specifically state their measured GI number.

AS you say, the GI of a meal results from the total of that meal - so for example mixing any high GI food with a low GI food lowers the overall GI load of the meal. For me , mostly I was eating too much product made from processed white flour. Now I eat much more vegs, fruit, fish, barley, oats, beans, legumes. Fortunately I like spiced foods so with my large spice cabinet, I can have a highly varied diet :)

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You can eat brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, couscous, sweet potato. Except for the quinoa, I generally avoid these things having them infrequently usually twice per month. I prefer to have chick peas and lentils with quinoa and lots of vegetables including sauteed spinach and a daily arugula salad.

However, having brown rice and whole wheat pasta in moderation is not harmful. You can still have them every other day. I prefer not to so I can further reduce my body fat and see the impact on my cholesterol levels.

Eating lots of vegetables prepared in tasty recipes is very satisfying. My wife make a stuffed red pepper with couscous, feta, chick peas, lentils and some tasty seasoning, along with extra virgin olive oil.

Barley also has a texture similar to other grains and is very good for lowering cholesterol levels. My wife makes it in a soup the recipe for which I have already posted on this website. 'Cholesterol-Busting Super Soup'.

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Careful sos007, cous cous and most brown rice have a Gi higher than table sugar glycemicindex.com

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That's why I have them, infrequently, as noted.

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Hi Sandy, yes we could all live till we are 80 and spend all that time struggling to control our weight, and health by refusing "nice" food and eating only rabbit food, but is that really living? Apparently being on a diet alone causes cortisol to soar so a permanent diet change would sky rocket cortisol.

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Maree,

Real food shouldn't be dismissed as "rabbit food". I doubt that any of us are saying that people should never again eat a slice of cake or a brownie, etc. But, even then, that cake or brownie would be better if they were made with more healthy ingredients. I can't stand the sickly-sweet cakes that are offered in most shops and cafes, which are mainly composed of refined sugar, refined wheat, refined oils, and a bunch of E numbers.

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Thanks for your reply and the information. I had the CRP test which showed no inflammation. This is common in fibromyalgia, but was also the case when tested while taking statins. I have my bloods checked every 6 months through the cardiac clinic and blood sugar is tested too. All tests come back as within the normal range except for cholesterol. I do eat a low carb diet, having mainly protein and vegetables or salad every day. Although I am prone to indulging in a little chocolate I limit that to a small amount of 80% cocoa chocolate. I do find exercise helps provided that it is not overdone and I take painkillers before I go out walking so that I can gain the most benefit from that. I have to pace my day and there is a limit to what I can do without triggering a flare. Hopefully some more research will be done into this condition and its cause

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Excess protein may be worse than carbohydrate

Do you crave chocolate because you are lacking in natural fat?

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I have fibromyalgia and high cholesterol as well. I am skinny and eat a fairly healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. My point is there is a significant genetic factor that you cannot change. Your body makes cholesterol and your diet will not change that. I cannot afford to lose weight so I am looking for a solution to my high cholesterol since I am unable to tolerate the statins. I would like to make one more point: The muscle pain and weakness caused by the statins is a serious side effect and should not be ignored. These symptoms indicate a deterioration of the muscles. This is called rhabdomyositis and can become a disability!

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Hi Nancy, you are so right when you say that the genetic factor of heart disease is impossible to beat. I come from a family wherein strokes and heart attacks go back to my grandfather on both sides. My mother was convinced that exercise was the cure all for everything, and continued to do as much exercise as she could, all her life, even after suffering a stroke at the age of 58. She also did not drink and avoided any food that might be labelled as unhealthy, eating very little meat, eating mostly fruit and veg. As I said, she suffered a stroke at the age of 58 then another at 81 which killed her. During the last 6 years of her life she took a statin, as prescribed by hew doctor, so all her good eating and exercise did nothing for her. My father, who rarely exercised, and ate a high fat diet, was diagnosed with high cholesterol with a work medical at 50. Statins were not prescribed then, and he did get his numbers down, with a strict low fat diet. Which lasted only until he was told that his cholesterol was OK, then the "bad" food crept back in. He lasted until he was 87 (took statins for the last 5 years of his life), when he too died from a stroke.

I was anorexic for 7 years and after recovering ate sparingly and walked a lot, I actually weighed 50kg when I had a stroke and when taken into hospital my cholesterol was double what it was deemed it should be. I was put on Lescol for about a year and my cholesterol came down, but not to the figure that the doctors wanted, because I was battling genetically high cholesterol. I continue to try to eat sparingly now, and rarely drink any more, and my numbers hover around slightly above the acceptable mark. The doctor are not happy, but with my muscular problems caused by the stroke, I do not need to exacerbate them by taking statins, which cannot beat my genetic tendency for high cholesterol

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Hi Bazza, I am thinking that I have a lot of built up plaque in my arteries, how did they fairness this in you? Do you believe that the statin helped to clear some of the plaque? How strict is your diet, like unenjoyable to wake up diet, or just a tweak in not eating what we all know we should not eat but still do?

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I have changed my diet considerably - but for the better I believe. I now avoid as much as I can commercially manufactured foods and anything that uses white refined flour and added sugar. So I eat a lot more fruit and vegetables, less meat , more beans, more wholegrains and wholegrain breads. I do a LOT of exercise (being a runner) but exercise did not seem to improve my cholesterol readings at all. I have had no problems taking CRESTOR statins - started out on 5mg low dose but have increased recently to 10 mg - so far no problems. If you are concerned about plaque levels a calcium score test will reveal how much hardening/calcification of the arteries you have which in turn is a reliable indicator of how much soft unstable plaque that you have. The calcified plaque is a nett result of your entire life to date and cannot be reduced - only it's future growth can be limited. At the end of the day, I believe that nobody really knows the reason for the development of plaque in the arteries - just lots of theories and conflicting "studies". I am 71YO and accept that one day in the not too distant future, I must die. Statistically speaking , at my age , it will most likely come from a heart attack or some form of cancer. As a runner, I regularly take my heart rate up to 95-100% of it's true maximum ( not the so called maximum that the medicos calculate) and I am hoping that it will be the heart that takes me out - I have seen people die slowly from cancer and I don't want that!!!!

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This is extremely interesting to read as I went on many statins for cholesterol slightly high (I gather in the period when the pharmaceutical reps were pushing GP's to give statins out)...... however, I could not bear the muscle pain any more and when I came back from Disneyland (May) with granddaughter, the GP spoke to me on the phone and said stop them for 8 weeks - I did this and felt slightly better so she told me to keep off them until another cholesterol/blood test in a few months time. When I went to see her in December of that year (2015) she told me that my cholesterol was fine and 'there was no need for me to be on them anyway' - heh she put me on them to start with !!!

Although much better and my chiropractor who's wife is a herbalist recommended a good quality turmeric tablet once or twice a day and they both take them. He told me it is like a nurofen without the side effects but helps the inflammation in the body. I feel they have improved considerably but since this cold, wet weather I am feeling more pain in knees and arms/fingers and hope, as you stated, the statins have not triggered fibromyalgia. My doctor and chiropractor (he is a medical doctor as well) have both said ..... we don't think you have this condition and I have been having blood tests every 3 months - 2 more to go for the year and they have come back ok so fingers crossed.

I definitely think that the statins have caused muscle pain which I never ever suffered from before.

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Thanks for your reply Brendamary. That is really interesting. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed by eliminating other possible illnesses. There is no specific blood test for it. The blood tests rule out other possible conditions. I do hope you don't have it and your muscle pain reduces further.

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Many thanks Florence. My chiropractor advised me not to be given whatever drug (not sure of name) a GP may give for muscle pain as this is a steroid and has horrid side effects including weight gain and possible blindness in the longer term - scary?

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Sounds nasty. I have to use paracetamol as so many of the other treatments involving NSAIDs have risks for heart disease. I will give turmeric a try. Thanks for that information.

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You can buy turmeric powder in super market. This is better than tablet. You can use 1/4 tea spoon of powder in porridge, I use turmeric powder, cinnamon powder and salt in my porridge. Has been good to me.

Tablets can be very expensive!

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Thanks Bala.

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The chiropractor, who trained in London as an orthopaedic doctor reccomended.....

Pukka Organic Turmeric Active - 30 Capsules

£14.35

Shop

+£2.00 shipping

These were good and he recommends Pukka

but now take Lamberts, The professional range, high potency Turmeric 10,000 providing 95% curcumins. 120 tablets so about £26 Ish which is what he and his wife have.

Take with two small black peppercorns as get into system quicker.

Good luck x

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Thanks for your help. I'll let you know how I get on. x

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Which turmeric tablet are you taking. Is it for your cholesterol.

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Statins have many side effects and have been shown (according to the internet) to do nothing for women. however here is a link wrt fibromyalgia spacedoc.com/articles/fibro...

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Thanks for this link. My consultant also told me that the statins were unlikely to be of much benefit for me as a woman so was not concerned about taking me off them. He felt that it would be more beneficial for me to be able to take sufficient exercise.

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what is your cholesterol.

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6.8. It sits around that level most of the time although it did once go up to 7.2. I was told I have a high level of HDL so this reduces the risk somewhat.

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This is my own anecdotal evidence from personal experience - I don't think statins always cause muscle pain, but rather will inflame already weakened joints and muscles so that you notice them more.

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Hi Florence, I have been on Statins since I had a Stroke (which is believed to have been due to AF) in June 2012. I was also discovered to have low thyroid at the same time so I am also on levothyroxine plus Beta-blockers and Dabigatran.

I tolerated 40mg of Simvastatin for just under 3 years before starting to have calf muscle cramps at night and then during the day. Various issues were checked including blood tests and vascular checks on my legs which were all fine. I changed to Atorvastatin 10mg and the muscle pain gradually eased until 6 weeks ago when it became severe. In fact even worse than before. I changed to 20mg of Pravastatin almost 5 weeks ago but pain continued to worsen and walking is very difficult partly because of the calf muscles and more recently in upper legs. I stopped statins completely 2 weeks ago, there is little change yet but my GP told me to stay off for 8 weeks to be sure that it is the statins causing the problems. Ironically my cholesterol is quite low but the GP had advised me that for someone with AF it couldn't be too low!

I haven't heard of fibromyalgia until now but am concerned that not enough is known about the long term or even medium term side effects of statins. I also suffer from fatigue but that could be either the AF or Low Thyroid of course.

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Hi Ray, I suffered a stroke 21 years ago, and was put immediately onto Effexor. Soon after I came out of hospital (6 months) I noticed tired aching calves. This has continued till the present day. I stopped the statin about 1 year after the stroke, despite being told many times that my cholesterol is too high. I have had to go back onto statins this week, unhappily. Do you think that the statins could have caused the ongoing calf fatigue? I, personally, believe that my cholesterol is high because that is my biological make up, before the stroke I was very healthy, yet i went into hospital after the stroke with a cholesterol almost double what is recomended

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Maree,

If you spend some time looking at the posts on this forum, you'll see that muscle pain is one of the most commonly reported side-effects of statins. Another is fatigue. Another is forgetfulness and confusion. There are many side-effects.

Take a look at my post where I've collated plenty of info and evidence.

healthunlocked.com/choleste...

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Hi Maree, I have been off statins now for 8 months and have had an incredible range of blood tests and scans without finding anything significant that could have been the cause so it is likely to have been the statins that caused my muscle problems. I have made a gradual and only partial recovery with a lot of special exercises and some physiotherapy. I think statins are over prescribed but I'm sure that experienced members will have some more expert comment that I can give.

Best wishes and hope things improve for you.

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Thanks Ray

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I have had fibromyalgia for 20 years, wuite severe. I went into remission for 3 years. I went on a statin and the muscle pain came on, my doctor ignored my concern until I had a full blown in the bed relapse for a long time making it difficult to work, so for me Statins cause my fibromyalgia to flare up

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