CoQ10s may bring relief from statin side effects

June 17, 2011 3:09:49 PM PDT
Statin drugs are wonder drugs for patients with high blood cholesterol who are at risk for a heart attack or stroke, but side effects may limit who can take them.

A supplement pill of CoQ10 may be the solution to a problem faced by some patients on statin drugs to lower cholesterol, in order to help eliminate one of the painful side effects of statins.

Linda Parker had high blood cholesterol and tried to use statin drugs to bring her cholesterol down.

"But each time I was on them for two months or so, I would begin to develop severe leg pain," Parker said.

Muscle pain or cramps such as Linda's is one of the most common side effects of the statins. This is where the over-the-counter supplement, CoQ10 may help.

"The statins have been shown to deplete CoQ10, and the theory is that by replacing them, it may help the muscle cramps. In practice, it does so in about half the people," said Dr. Nicholas DuBois, Cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Dr. DuBois says the studies of CoQ10 are small and Dr. Lawrence Phillips of NYU Langone Medical Center agrees.

"Because the side effects are low, if people are interested, I encourage them to take the CoQ10s," Dr. Phillips said.

Another statin side effect is rare but dangerous. Muscle breakdown may occur and can cause kidney damage. Symptoms can be identical to Linda's, so make sure your doctor knows if you have muscle pain, to test for a more serious problem. CoQ10s may also interfere with some blood pressure pills and blood thinners.

More studies on CoQ10 are needed for these issues, say most doctors. but for Linda, a statin finally controlled her cholesterol without muscle pain, using CoQ10.

Though CoQ10 has very few side effects, one downside is the expense. It can be about fifty cents to a dollar for one daily capsule or pill. However, we found some cheaper pills on the internet. The dose of CoQ10 is about 100 to 200 milligrams per day, and doctors think to use it when they put patients on high doses of statins.