A study found that cholesterol lowering drugs, also known as statin drugs, are associated with decreased heart muscle function.

These drugs are linked to muscle damage,  weakness and a breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of muscle fiber contents into the bloodstream.

Statin drugs are highly toxic because they stop the cells from producing a key vitamin, CoQ10, which is the cause of the side effects.  Relatively low doses of statin drugs such as Lipitor and Zocor effectively reduce plasma cholesterol levels. These drugs function by halt an enzyme that changes the chemical HMG-CoA to mevalonate, which is an early and rate-limiting step in cholesterol production. A branch of the mevalonate cholesterol pathway in mammalian cells leads to the formation of CoQ10. Also, high levels of statin drugs can reduce CoQ10 in the liver and compactin reduces LDL-bound CoQ10 at doses prescribed by physicians.

Unfortunately, most doctors are unaware of the cause of these complications, and could recommend taking CoQ10 supplements to their patients when prescribing these drugs.   Pharmaceutical company even has a patent on the drug and CoQ10 combination, since but never released it.

A Unique Drug Vitamin Patent

In 1989, Merck& Co., makers of lovastatin was awarded patent #4,933,165.  Tthe reasons for the combination of statin drug plus CoenzymeQ10 are as follows:

Coenzyme Q10 is a redox component in the respiratory chain and is found in all cells having mitochondria. It is thus an essential co-factor in the generation of metabolic energy and is particularly important in muscle function.

Researchers, led by Dr Karl Folkers, have measured the levels of Coenzyme Q10 in heart tissue biopsy samples taken from patients with varying stages of damage to the heart muscle.  These researchers observed decreasing tissue levels of CoQ10 with increasing severity of the symptoms of cardiac disease.

No FDA Warning

Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t warn consumers of this dangerous and reversible side effect.

There are no official warnings in the U.S. regarding CoQ10 depletion from taking statin drugs, and many physicians fail to inform you about this problem as well. Labeling in Canada, however, clearly warns of CoQ10 depletion and even notes that this nutrient deficiency “could lead to impaired cardiac function in patients with borderline congestive heart failure.”

The majority of people who use statin cholesterol-lowering drugs are doing so because they believe lowering their cholesterol will prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, new research shows they are linked to heart muscle damage and an increased risk of having  stroke!

A study published in Clinical Cardiology determined that the heart muscle function in the control group, the participants who didn’t take a statin drug was much better compared to those who did.

Also, the usefulness of statin drugs has received tough scrutiny in recent months, and that scrutiny is well deserved.  A study published in Clinical Cardiology found that heart muscle function was “significantly better” in the control group than in those taking statin drugs! The researchers concluded:

“Statin therapy is associated with decreased myocardial [heart muscle] function.”

What’s often the end result when your heart muscle function is weakened or decreased? Heart failure!

How Statin Drugs Damage the Heart

The Clinical Cardiology study did not address causes, because statin drugs damage muscle, it is completely logical to see how the heart can be damaged by this drug, since it is a specialized muscle.

In addition to halting CoQ10 production, these drugs,  also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage your mitochondrial DNA, effectively setting into motion an evil circle of increasing free radicals and mitochondrial damage.

As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure, so it is imperative if you take statin drugs that you take CoQ10 or, if you are over the age of 40, the reduced version called ubiquinol.

In our next issue, we’ll take a look at its role in increased stroke risk and other diseases.


Clinical Cardiology December 2009; 32(12):684-9