More than 13 million Americans use statins to treat high cholesterol and improve heart health. But these drugs can sap a patient's energy, according to a new study released this month by the American Heart Association.
It's a cruel irony that if statins make patients more lethargic, it could impair their ability to exercise or make dietary changes that would help them address their high cholesterol.
A side effect like reduced energy could lead some patients to stop taking their medication. And we're hearing about many patients cutting back on their meds now because of the economy.
High cholesterol must be treated in one way or other. Not treating it could lead to heart disease and strokes.
If you're feeling tired and lethargic, your body is telling you something. Tell your doctor that you have low energy.
There are other known side effects of statins such as achy muscles, a cloudy mind, and one very rare side effect that affects muscle enzymes. Your doctor should do a CPK (creatine phosphokinase) test, that measures if those enzymes are too high, which could have an impact on your energy level.
If no problems are revealed by the muscle enzyme test, talk to your doctor about other courses of treatment. Perhaps a lower dosage would address the cholesterol and boost your energy. There are other medications, lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medication that might help.
Many cardiologists are looking at the supplement CoQ10 as a possible addition to treatment with statins. More research is needed, but some studies have found that patients' energy levels increased while using CoQ10 and statins together.
Stay away from energy-boosting supplements that may have ephedrine-like chemicals or anything that could put your heart at risk.
Try Pomegranate and Chocolate, Not Energy Drinks
Try pomegranate juice or a small chunk of dark chocolate, both of which have beneficial antioxidants. Stay away from energy bars, drinks or boosters, many of which are filled with caffeine and sugar.
Get Enough Sleep and Go to Bed Before Midnight
Skimping on sleep has been found to increase calcium deposit build-up in your arteries. Getting the right amount of sleep, about 7 1/2 hours, seems to prevent this. Plus getting the right amount of sleep will always give you more energy. Cat naps are good for you too.
A recent study linked artery health to when you sleep. This study looked at men who got the same amount of sleep but had different bedtimes. Men who went to sleep before midnight had better heart health than those who go to bed after midnight.
Doctors aren't sure why this was the case, but it could have something to do with getting up early and enjoying more daylight.
The bottom line on this is you can only help yourself by getting at least 7 1/2 hours of sleep and maintaining a regular sleep schedule.