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Cholesterol: neuropathy as a potential side effect of statin drugs CHOLESTEROL: NEUROPATHY AS A POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECT OF STATIN DRUGS
Statins can cause nerve damage resulting in symptoms such as tingling, pain, numbness and weakness in the hands and feet. Some people even experience difficulty walking because of this. Researchers studied 500, 000 residents of Denmark and found that taking statins for one year raised the risk of nerve damage by 15 percent. People who took statins for two or more years were 26 percent more likely to get nerve damage. Cholesterol is a major component of the myelin sheath, which insulates our nerves and facilitates nerve transmissions.
Anne in NSW had been taking 40mg of Lipex (simvastatin) for 18 months before she noticed any side effects. Her cholesterol had been 6.3mmol/L and she couldn't get it down any lower with diet and exercise, so her doctor decided to put her on Lipex. The fact that Anne is a type 2 diabetic made her an even more suitable candidate for statin therapy according to her doctor. Anne has got a fatty liver, and her liver enzymes were elevated even before she started taking Lipex, yet her doctor still recommended she take it. Anne suffers with high blood pressure and takes Avapro 300, and has an under active thyroid, and takes Oroxine for this.
The first unusual symptoms Anne noticed were a feeling of nausea and what she described as "dead legs"; her legs felt extremely weak and heavy. She started sweating, developed pins and needles and felt overpoweringly ill. Anne assumed that she had come down with a virus.
A week later her legs became even weaker and she noticed that her arms were trembling. The nerves in her arms and legs tingled and she felt like she was on the verge of suffering an anxiety attack, even though she had never experienced that before. Anne commented that her hands trembled as though she had Parkinson's disease.
Anne accidentally forgot to take Lipex for the next few days and started feeling better. She resumed the drug and the next morning felt incredibly weak, was trembling, shaking and sweating. The next thing she noticed, she could hardly stand. That was when Anne was taken to hospital. She underwent numerous tests which came up with nothing specific. Anne did not have an infection and her liver enzymes were still raised as previously. She was taken off Lipex, and then resumed it one last time, only to have all these symptoms return. Her doctors concluded that the only possible explanation for all of these symptoms was an adverse reaction to Lipex.
Anne was permanently taken off Lipex and the dose of her blood pressure tablet was reduced. It has now been one month since Anne discontinued Lipex, and she is slowly getting better. She used to walk 20 kilometers each week for exercise but cannot manage anything near this now; even going shopping is a strain on her legs. Anne still notices the occasional tremors in her hands.
The information leaflet inside a box of Lipex recommends it be used in people with diabetes, a history of stroke, or other blood vessel disease, regardless of their cholesterol level, in order to prolong their life. It is recommended that you do not take Lipex if you have a liver disease; Anne had a fatty liver yet she was still prescribed this medication. Paraesthesia is listed as a possible side effect of Lipex, this is a nervous system disorder whereby people experience burning, prickling or stinging sensations. Anne experienced an extreme case of an adverse drug reaction. She has now been placed on an appropriate eating plan with nutritional supplements, and day by day she is slowly recovering her health.
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