Cholesterol-lowering statins have been credited with preventing countless heart attacks among at-risk adults. More than 20 million U.S. adults now take statins daily, making them some of the top-selling drugs of all time. Recent research, however, has indicated that they might sometimes contribute to cognitive problems, such as confusion and memory loss. And new findings suggest that they might also be to blame for additional fatigue.
The new study followed 1,016 healthy adults, who were randomly assigned to take 20 milligrams of Zocor (simvastatin), 40 milligrams of Pravachol (pravastatin)—both relatively low doses—or a placebo every evening before bed for six months. At the end of the study period, they were asked to rate their energy levels and how they felt after exercising. Those who were taking the statins were more likely to report lower overall energy and more fatigue with exertion than those who had been randomized to the placebo. The findings were reported online June 11 in Archives of Internal Medicine.The fatigue was more pronounced in women than in men. What this suggests is that drugs, while important, are not magic pills. There are always side effects, some worse than others. What this study also suggests is that there are simple things that adults can do to lower their cholesterol and improve their health, including eating well, exercising, quitting smoking and managing stress.