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  • Lipitor & Other Statins - A Pain or A Gain?

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    Old 07-22-2005, 01:51 AM   #1
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    Lightbulb Lipitor & Other Statins - A Pain or A Gain?

    Hello All,

    I have seen so many postings about statins and pain and other side-effects associated with taking them. So, I thought I'd share my own experience with you.

    I'm "walking proof" that Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) can be bad for you. Having said that, I have been taking Lipitor 10mg every day for years and have found no significant side-effects. Increasing the dosage, however, was altogether a different experience.

    I have Familial Hyperlipidemia and I'm relatively skinny (I use low-fat dairy products and abstain from red meats), so diet has had no effect on my total cholesterol count. My father had his first coronary at age 34 and died from a stroke at age 44 (this, doctors say, makes me a high risk.)

    Usually, my cholesterol is pretty high (5.4 being the "acceptable average") at around 8, but some time back I decided that taking Lipitor was a waste of money, so stopped taking it altogether. My cholesterol rocketed to almost 10, which according to my doctor is "a heart-attack waiting to happen". He immediately put me back on Lipitor and changed the dosage to 40mg/day. The first week or so did not produce significant side-effects and I continued to use it.

    At first, I noticed that I had an inflammatory-like pain in my right foot. It was constantly hot and I couldn't touch it without a lot of pain. I started treating it with Ibuprofen, but the pain got worse. A week later, my left foot started aching, first with muscle spasms in my toes, then spreading to the ankles, both of which looked like they had bags of water surrounding them. As the pain got progressively worse and walking virtually impossible, my brother took me to A&E, where they did blood tests and sent me for x-rays. They thought that I had twisted my ankles, because they were discoloured (purple and red), but the x-rays showed nothing unusual. The blood tests came back with high inflammation levels and not much else. I was sent home (diagnosis : Myalgia) and told to put my feet up. At stages, I was unable to walk normally, and was wheeled around in a wheelchair for further tests. Touching the skin, made me cringe with pain.

    After more blood tests and DVT (deep vein thrombosis) scans (I had developed a lump under my skin in the calf area), the doctors were no closer to an answer and sent me to a specialist, who diagnosed "Reactive Arthritis". At this stage, I was walking by pushing my feet forward, much like an aged person with a walker! I am only 34 years old!

    I was in "constant" pain, whether I sat with my feet up or lay down - even contact with my bedsheets was painful. I ceased taking Lipitor and it took me about 6-7 weeks for the pain to disappear and the swelling to go down completely.

    For those of you with similar problems, I can recommend a menthol solution (gel) which helped tremendously in alleviating the pain. It is something they rub onto horses legs after training. As I'm in South Africa, I'm not sure what the name is around the globe, but try to get something similar to Ice Man Herbal (Menthol) Cooling Gel, which is amazingly soothing for any aches and pains (external use only). The gel is also quick drying, so leaves no nasty residue.

    Furthermore, I can only say that leaving the Lipitor behind has perhaps increased my cholesterol, but it's a darn sight better than walking around like an aged crone. I'm pretty sure there are healthier alternatives out there, we just have to find them. As for supplementing with natural minerals/vitamins, I do believe that they are healthier in the long run. (I take a daily dose of 1,000mg Vitamin C which is time-released and Omega-3 in the form of Fish Oil) and eat lots of avocado, which is proven to lower cholesterol.

    I wish you all good luck in Health,


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    Old 07-22-2005, 02:10 AM   #2
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    Re: Lipitor & Other Statins - A Pain or A Gain?

    Hi RC2000,
    I just wrote in another thread
    "Crestor-20mg (rosuvastatin) brought my LDL from 275 to 140 in just 10 days. Nothing else on earth- medicine, diet, inhibitor, herb or excercise can make this happen'"

    Since i just had my PTCA, im taking a mixture of tablets and cant tell for sure which one causes which side effect - (docs does not agree to any claims of aches and pains because of any of my medicines)

    Some people can endure statins, some get aches and cramps, some people can develop real bad problems like muscle and liver disorders.. good news is that being allergic to one statin does not mean you are allergic to all...
    Happy healing!!

    Old 07-22-2005, 04:12 AM   #3
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    Re: Lipitor & Other Statins - A Pain or A Gain?

    Did they completely rule out GOUT as the cause of your dreadful foot inflammation. If it happens again, a course of colchicine should be tried because gout can be illusive and a response to colchicine is so dramatic as to be diagnostic since it cures nothing else but it will stop a gout attack dead in its tracks.
    I speak from personal experience.

    Too bad you/they didn't leave the 10 mg. Lipitor dose alone; the 8.0 (309 mg./dL) is FAR better than the 10.0 (386 American) that you are getting now.
    What cholesterol reading did you get with that 40 mg. nightmare!
    If you are STILL getting the 10.0 (386) you simply must not be content to allow it untreated especially with your fathers early death from vascular disease.
    You WON'T get any lowering with Vitamin C and the influence of daily avocados will be slight if anything.

    If your TC is highly influenced by triglycerides then there are different classes of meds to lower them. There are also the plant sterols that interrupt absorption of dietary cholesterol, though your diet seems low in them already.

    How about another statin or back on the 10 mg. Lipitor...a 20% reduction in cholesterol is nothing to pooh-pooh especially if that's all you can get. Or better yet, a trial with VYTORIN, which is a combination drug that gets very good results at a lower dose of a slightly weaker statin (simvastatin.)

    Remember, it IS possible that the foot pain was coincidental or gout TRIGGERED by the statin. If the latter, gout is an easily controlled metabolic condition with a wonder drug that costs pennies: allourinol!

    Don't give up on those cholesterol numbers, you have too much at stake!

    Last edited by Lenin; 07-22-2005 at 04:32 AM.

    Old 07-22-2005, 06:56 AM   #4
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    Re: Lipitor & Other Statins - A Pain or A Gain?

    Sorry to hear about your terrible problems with Lipitor! You indeed went through some major trials!

    Although I'm not convinced the cholesterol numbers the doctors seem to insist are ideal are really that predictive, with a family history like yours and with numbers as high as you have, I would not take the chance. You definitely should make an effort to lower them IMO. The lower dose of Lipitor, which worked for you before, might work again without troubles, now that you've had a break from it. The Vytorin that Lenin suggested might be a possibility. So far I've heard very few reports on this board of people unable to take it. My brother had muscle pain from both Lipitor and Crestor (not as bad as yours, though), and he has been on Vytorin for over six months without problems with side effects.

    Have you considered niacin therapy? Niacin has been used to lower cholesterol for decades. I lowered my total cholesterol by 57 points with just 750 mg Enduracin (an OTC sustained-release) niacin. You would very likely need a higher dose with numbers as high as yours, but the maximum dose of the brand I take is 2000 mg. Your doctor would probably prescribe Niaspan if he feels niacin is right for you. Don't try to take an OTC niacin without supervision of a doctor, as there is always the possibility of liver toxicity, especially at the high doses you'd likely need to get control. If under a doctor's supervision, he could order liver enzyme tests at regular intervals to make sure you aren't having problems with it.

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