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Statin-induced side effects: depression, fatigue, memory loss, arrhythmia, Katherine Faraday, MD
Monday, February 04, 2013 1:20 pm Email this article
“That was the worst I ever felt in my life,” notes Katherine Faraday, MD in the wonderful documentary Statin Nation.
“There were times when I wondered if I really wanted to go on living.”
Below is the quote of exactly what she says in the movie about the side effects she experienced—fatigue, depression, memory loss, colitis, and dry eyes—and how neither she nor her doctor realized for 2 years that ALL of the problems she had developed were being caused by the Lipitor (atorvastatin) she was taking to lower her cholesterol.
Statin side effects can be very subtle
Statin side effects can be very subtle notes Katherine Faraday, MD talking about the NUMEROUS statin side effects she experienced for 2 years before realizing that Lipitor was causing all of these problems
“My experience shows that statin side effects can be very subtle,” notes Katherine Faraday, MD, a dermatologist from Austin, Texas who experienced many side effects while taking the cholesterol-lowering statin, Lipitor (atorvastatin).
“They can involve other organ systems.
Statin side effects may NOT appear immediately
Statin side effects may take months or years to show up after starting on the drug
“They can present themselves months or even years after starting a statin, so it is not necessarily within a short timeframe.
“By that time, usually a patient gets diagnosed as having a whole new disease and they are put on a whole new drug.
She was SICK for 2 years from statins
She took Lipitor for 2 years and was “fairly sick” during the entire 2 years
“I took Lipitor for 2 years and I was fairly sick during that whole period of time.
It took 2 or 3 years to start feeling back to normal
After stopping Lipitor, she said it took 2-3 years to start feeling back to normal
“After I stopped taking Lipitor, it took me another 2 to 3 years to get to where I started to feel back to normal.
Memory problems from statins
She STILL has memory problems 3 years after stopping Lipitor
“Although most of my dramatic symptoms have gone away, I still had memory issues which I still have to this day.
Lack of energy
Energy levels took a long time to come back
“My energy levels took a long time to come back.
She feared she had early-Alzheimer’s
She feared the memory problems were early-Alzheimer’s, not realizing this was caused by the Lipitor
“I’d be saying something to patient, and then suddenly, the next word would not come, and, in fact, my whole mind would go blank for a couple seconds – it was like a white out.
“That was frightening.
“I did not know what that was.
“I thought, well, maybe it’s just stress. I’ve been working pretty hard.
“But in the back of my mind I started to fear that maybe I was stating to get early Alzheimer’s.
“I couldn’t say the word, but that was my fear.
It was an effort to even get out of bed
She felt no happiness; all she felt was fear
“I went home and I stayed home for 3 weeks.
“I was totally exhausted, both emotionally and physically.
“And all I could do was stay in bed.
“It was an effort to get out of bed.
“I was afraid to get out of bed.
“I’ve never been so fearful in my life.
“In fact, fear was the only emotion I had.
“I could not feel happiness.
“I could not laugh.
“I could not remember being happy.
It was the WORST she had ever felt
It was the WORST she had ever felt in her life
“That was the worst I ever felt in my life.
She did not know if she wanted to go on living
Katherine Faraday, MD did not know if she wanted to go on living because she felt so horrible, but she did NOT realize ALL of her problems were statin-induced side effects
“There were times when I wondered if I really wanted to go on living.
“I mourned my health.
“I felt that I had lost my health.
“I felt sorry that I had not done things like travel, and all those things you think you’re going to do, and I felt so sorry that I hadn’t done that before I lost my health.
“Now, as I’m trying to be healthy, I’m trying to get enough sleep.
“I’m trying to manage my stress levels.
“I’m trying to exercise regularly.
Her cholesterol levels are very high, but there NO evidence of heart disease
Her cholesterol levels are very high, but there NO evidence of heart disease in spite of this
“My cholesterol continues to be very high, however, I’ve had several echocardiograms, stress tests, [and] EKGs, and nothing has ever showed any evidence of heart disease.
“So, so far, I’m doing okay.
Doctors are blind to statin-induced side effects
She and her doctor were blind to the fact that these were drug-induced side effects
“I honestly don’t believe that doctors recognize statins side effects even when they’re sitting right in front of them.
“In the middle of my two-year illness, I saw my internist for my annual checkup.
Depression, fatigue, colitis, heart arrhythmia, dry eyes
Statin-induced side effects she experienced: Depression, fatigue, colitis, heart arrhythmia, dry eyes
“After briefly noting that I was seeing several specialists for my dry eye problem, my arrhythmia problem, my colitis problem and my depression, she then got to the heart of the visit which was that she was delighted my cholesterol levels were under control.
“I find it ironic neither she nor I ever stopped to question why a relatively young, healthy person had suddenly developed 5 new illnesses in one year and the only new thing in my life was Lipitor.”
—Katherine Faraday, MD from the documentary Statin Nation
Hobbs comment: I came to realize five things about doctors over the last 17 years of my parent’s life.
One of them is that most doctors are BLIND to drug-induced side effects.
The ONLY reason I say this is because I watched this happen to my mother for the last 17 years of her life.
I would go so far as to say that EVERY problem my mother had in the last 17 years of her life was caused by a drug-induced side effect.
However, EVERY one of my mother’s doctors—and she saw at least 15 doctors in the last 17 years of her life—were completely and totally BLIND to these drug-induced side effects.
For 17 years, I would scream and shout repeatedly, “It’s the drugs! It’s the drugs! It’s the drugs causing all of these problems!”
But my mother’s doctors could NOT see this to save their life.
ALL of them were BLIND to this.
For 17 years, I thought about why doctors are blind to drug-induced side effects, and I think I know exactly why this is.
I believe it is because doctors are taught how to diagnose a bunch of diseases in medical school.
Let’s say they learn how to diagnose 100 diseases.
It is my understanding that they give medical students many, many hypothetical situations in which they have to diagnose what is wrong with the patient.
However, my guess is that in medical school that they NEVER give medical students hypothetical situations where a problem is being cause by a drug-induce side effect.
For example, my guess is that medical schools NEVER give a hypothetical situation saying something like this:
“A patient comes in and is feeling tired, depressed and suicidal. What is causing this?”
And the medical students say, “Is it depression?”
“Is it Alzheimer’s?”
“Is it Parkinson’s?”
“Is it a hormonal imbalance?”
“Is it a tumor in the brain?”
And finally, the professor says, “No, it’s being cause by a statin… or a beta blocker… or a calcium channel blocker… or an ACE inhibitor.”
(By the way, ALL of these drugs increase the risk of depression and suicide, but my guess is that most doctors are NOT aware of this—my mother’s doctors certainly were NOT.)
Anyway, my guess is that most medical schools NEVER, EVER give hypothetical situations like this where the problem is caused by a drug-induced side effect.
My guess that the answer to EVERY hypothetical situation given to these medical students is that the problem is being caused by one of the 100 diseases they are learning to diagnose.
And because of this, when doctors get out in the real world and see patients, and are trying to diagnose what is wrong with someone, they try to diagnose EVERY PROBLEM as being cause by one of the 100 diseases they learned how to diagnose in medical school.
In other words, they try to put EVERYONE’S problems into one of these 100 boxes because that is what they were taught to do in medical school.
I saw this happen to my mother repeatedly over the last 17 years of her life.
Her doctors could NOT see that all of the problems that my mother experienced were being cause by drug-induced side effects.
Here is the best example of this.
In September 2002, my mother woke up early one day with a “choking episode” where she thought she was going to die.
The next day the same thing happened at the same time.
The day after that, it happened again at the same time.
When I found out about this, I told my parents that I felt sure it was being caused by the blood pressure drug my mother had started on three weeks earlier, a drug called Atacand (Candesartan Cilexetil), which is an angiotensin II receptor blocker.
My mother ended up in the hospital for 6 days because of this.
Every day, all day long, for 10-12 hours per day, I read paper after paper after paper from medical journals and scientific journals trying to figure out how this drug was causing this problem.
And every day I would make copies of these papers, highlight these papers, and FedEx them to my father to receive the next morning.
Every day I would also update a scientific report, adding to the evidence that this drug was causing this problem, and FedEx this to my father also.
My father would take these highlighted papers and updated scientific reports to my mother in the hospital.
Every day, my mother was seen by one or two new doctors in addition to doctors she had seen previously.
She saw a total of 10 doctors regarding this problem.
And every day, my mother would say to these doctors, “My son thinks this drug is causing this problem. Here are these papers he sent, and here are these reports he sent. What do you think?”
And EVERY DAY, EVERY DOCTOR she saw said the SAME THING, “No, no, no! This drug cannot possibly cause this problem. Keep taking it.”
It seemed insane.
At the time I wondered if these were the 10 dumbest doctors in the world.
I could not understand how they could be so blind to this.
I did NOT expect them to believe me, but I thought surely they would believe all of the scientific papers I sent them and all of the updated scientific reports I sent them, and that surely they would realize that the drug was causing the problem, but they did NOT.
Instead, at first, my mother’s primary care physician, Julie Schleck, MD, an internist who my parent’s both loved, told my mother that her “choking episodes” were being caused by a panic attack.
I thought this diagnosis was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.
You want me to believe that these choking episodes that my mother had developed for the first time ever in her life at the age of 72 were being caused by a panic attack that my mother had developed for the first time ever in her life, just COINCIDENTALLY 3 weeks after she started on this new drug which she had never, ever taken before?
Are you kidding me?!
I thought it was about 100 times more likely it was being cause by the drug—because my mother was taking this new drug that she had never, ever taken before, and she was having this problem that she had never, ever had before.
It was simply the idea that “the new thing is causing the new thing.”
It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out, but my mother’s doctors were BLIND to this.
They could not see this to save their life.
And it is VERY EASY to figure out if the drug was causing the problem.
All they had to do was STOP THE DRUG and see if the problem went away!
However, this is NOT how doctors are taught to think.
They are NOT taught to think like a scientist.
They are taught to think like a technician.
(This is the second thing I came to realize about doctors—Doctors are NOT scientists, they are technicians.)
(They are NOT taught to figure things out by doing scientific experiments, but rather they are taught, “If you have high blood pressure, you need one or two of these drugs. If you have high cholesterol, you need one or two of these drugs. If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), you need one or two of these drugs. If you are depressed, you need one or two of these drugs. If you are anxious, you need one or two of these drugs. If you can’t sleep, you need one or two of these drugs. If your bones are thinning, you need one or two of these drugs. If you have acid reflux, you need one or two of these drugs.” They are taught to match symptoms to drugs. They are NOT taught to do scientific experiments to figure things out.)
(This is what I mean when I say that doctors are NOT scientists, they are technicians.)
(By the way, this idea that doctors are not scientists, but technicians is NOT something that I came up with, but rather this is something I heard from THREE DOCTORS over the last 14 years.)
(And this is EXACTLY what all 10 doctors in the hospital did.)
(ALL 10 of them told my mother TO KEEP TAKING THE DRUG!)
(A scientists would NEVER do this.)
(A scientists would say, “Well, I don’t know if this drug is causing the problem, but let’s stop the drug and see if the problem goes away”.)
(But NONE of the 10 doctors who saw my mother thought to do this!)
Anyway, on with the story about my mother and her choking episodes.
After her doctor said they were being caused by a panic attack, a pulmonary specialist told my mother her choking episodes were being caused by mild congestive heart failure.
I certainly realized that the pulmonary specialist knew INFINITELY more about this than I do, but the one thing I knew was that HE WAS WRONG!
There is NO WAY I believed that her choking episodes were being cause by congestive heart failure.
I thought this was a RIDICULOUS diagnosis because my mother had NO SIGNS of congestive heart failure EXCEPT fatigue.
This is just another example of a doctor trying to diagnose EVERY PROBLEM as one of the hundred things they learned to diagnose in medical school.
I imagine that this is how the pulmonary specialist diagnosed it as being cause by mild congestive heart failure—that he asked my mother, “Do you tire easily?” and my mother said, “Yes, I do.” and the pulmonary specialist said, “It must be mild congestive heart failure that is causing this.”
But if he would have simply asked my mother, “How long have you felt this fatigue?”, my mother would have told him, “For about 30 years!” and then he would have realized that his diagnosis was RIDICULOUS.
After that, another doctor in the hospital said that my mother’s choking episodes were being caused by a thyroid nodule, that is, that these nodules were physically obstructing my mother’s throat and were causing these choking episodes (similar to a large goiter which a long time ago, caused some people to die from strangulation.)
I knew that this diagnosis was also completely and totally RIDICULOUS.
Here is why.
I did not know anything about thyroid nodules, but when I looked it up, I found that HALF of all people over the age of 50 have thyroid nodules.
In other words, thyroid nodules are EXTREMELY COMMON, and yet, I have NEVER, EVER heard of anyone else experiencing choking episode from this.
Finally, at the end of my mother’s hospital stay, my mother REFUSED to take the drug.
She told the doctors, “I know all 10 doctors have assured me that this drug cannot possibly cause this problem, but my son thinks this drug is causing the problem. I don’t know who is right, but I don’t want to take the drug anymore.”
And the problem disappeared!
I thought that SURELY at this point, that the doctors would recognize that the drug had caused the problem, but they did NOT!
Instead they had my mother go to an endocrinologist for a year about her thyroid nodules.
And a couple weeks after stopping the drug and after these choking episodes disappeared, my mother went to her doctor, Julie Schleck, MD, and Julie told my mother, “I think your choking episodes were caused by a respiratory infection.”
Julie, you’ve got to be kidding me!
Even after I was screaming every day that it was being caused by the drug, and every day I sent more and more papers from scientific journals suggesting the problem was caused by the drug, and every day I sent an updated scientific report laying out the case for why this drug was causing the problem, and even after the problem DISAPPEARED after my mother stopped the drug, you are STILL BLIND to the fact that they drug caused these problems?!
Talk about being blind to drug-induced side effects!
She STILL could NOT see that the drug had been causing the problem even after she was given all of this overwhelming evidence!
By the way, I correspond with about 75 doctors.
Several years ago, I told them this story about my mother and her choking episodes and how these 10 doctors were COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY BLIND to the fact that this was due to a drug-induced side effect.
Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, author of “The Great Cholesterol Con”, who has been an email friend for the past 3 or 4 years, and who, coincidentally is featured in the Statin Nation documentary, told me that he has seen up to 50 cases of respiratory problems caused by both ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin II receptor blockers, like my mother was taking, that had gone UNRECOGNIZED by other doctors.
Thank you, Malcolm for confirming my experience!
After my mother’s experience in 2002, this is when I came to realize that doctors are BLIND to drug-induced side effects, and that they try to diagnose EVERY problem as one of the 100 things they learned how to diagnose in medical school.
There were MANY MORE EXAMPLES of this during the last 17 years of my mother’s life.
My advice is that if you are NOT feeling well after starting on some drug, simply STOP the drug and see if the problems go away.
One thing I have learned over the past 31 years is that:
1. It is always, always, always the new thing causing the new thing.
2. If you start feeling bad after starting on a new drug or nutritional supplement or after you start eating some new food, simply stop the drug or supplement or food and see if the problem goes away.
I encourage you to do this EVEN IF YOUR DOCTOR TELLS YOU THAT THE DRUG YOU ARE TAKING CANNOT POSSIBLY CAUSE THIS because, as I noted, doctors are BLIND to drug-induced side effects!
I encourage everyone who is interested in statins or heart disease to buy the Station Nation DVD and watch both the one-hour documentary as well as the two-hours of extended interviews.
You can buy the DVD here:
The DVD contains the one-hour documentary plus an additional two-hours of extended interviews with Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, Uffe Ravnskov, MD PhD and others.
I enjoyed the two-hours of extended interviews every bit as much as I enjoyed the documentary.
Other articles from Statin Nation
Other articles with more quotes from the movie Statin Nation
Other articles from the movie Statin Nation can be found here:
- Statins increase life expectancy by only 2 weeks in those with a heart attack, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick
- Statins do NOT increase life expectancy by even one day in the general population, Malcolm Kendrick
- HIGHER cholesterol as associated with LONGER life, fewer infections and cancer, Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD
- Low cholesterol levels INCREASE the risk of cancer notes Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD
- Those who have LOW cholesterol levels are likely to die YOUNGER notes Dr. Malcolm Kendrick
- 8 of 9 panel members who wrote the cholesterol guidelines were paid by the drug companies
- Statin-induced side effects: depression, fatigue, memory loss, arrhythmia, Katherine Faraday, MD
- Statin side effects, 51-yr-old women: depression, amnesia, incredible fatigue, chest pain, insomnia
- Statin side effects: ‘Life was pretty unbearable’, constant pain, fatigue, did not feel well, Tony W
- LDL cholesterol binds to and inactivates bacteria and viruses, Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD
- Statins increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 25-30% notes Dr. Malcolm Kendrick
Articles on the same subject can be found here:
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