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2013 January

Study reveals harmful effect of cholesterol-lowering statins on muscles

31st January 2013

Scientists have shed light on the underlying causes of muscle pain in people who take statin drugs to improve their blood cholesterol.

A group of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins are recommended for those at risk of heart attack, but many people are reluctant to resort to these potent pharmaceuticals.

One of the main reasons for this reticence is the drugs' harmful side-effects, including widespread muscle pain.

Figures show that up to 75 per cent of physically active people who use statins to lower their levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or 'bad cholesterol') suffer from muscle pain - a high price to pay for treating a condition that can often be addressed with a far more natural approach.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, scientists at the University of Copenhagen's Centre for Healthy Aging shed light on this common and painful side-effect of statin therapy.

The research team looked at the muscles of ten patients who were using statins and a further nine people who were not.

They observed that patients who used statins experienced a decrease in a key protein called coenzyme Q10 in their muscles, leading to lower energy production and potentially explaining their problematic muscle pain.

Professor Flemming Dela revealed: "We have now shown that statin treatment affects the energy production in muscles. We are working on the assumption that this can be the direct cause of muscle weakness and pain in the patients.

"This may keep people away from either taking their medicine or from taking exercise."

In light of the findings - and considering the fact that the jury is still out on whether or not statins are that beneficial for people with high LDL cholesterol but no other risk factors for heart disease – consumers may want to consider seeking a more natural approach.

Plant extracts called phytosterols have been shown to help the body control blood cholesterol, but the typical UK diet is worryingly low in these natural compounds.

To address the imbalance and optimise their blood cholesterol, some people choose to take a natural health supplement which contains a unique combination of plant extracts.

It is thought that these help to address high levels of LDL by reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol, thereby lowering the person's risk of heart attack and stroke while avoiding the side-effects associated with statins.

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