Cholesterol, Statins, and Chiropractic

Quite often patients will present to a chiropractic office because they are experiencing some new and unusual pain. Quite often the pain is dispersed with no real focal point and no history of trauma. Further questioning often reveals a history of statin use to reduce cholesterol. Statins are a class of drugs used to block cholesterol production in the liver. If you ever pay attention to the ads on television you will hear it stated that side effects include a rare but serious muscle condition. It seems to me that it is not so rare.

Unfortunately, this is only one of the potential side effects of statin medications. Other side effects include neuropathy, fatigue, memory loss, aggression, irritability and cognitive defects to name a few. A recent study in January linked statin use to a 50% increase in Type II Diabetes in women. But isn’t it worth it if we can use these drugs to prevent a heart attack? After all, research indicates that taking statins will decrease the risk of a heart attack by 50%. Nobody wants a heart attack, so it seems reasonable until you take a closer look.

The popularity of treating high cholesterol with statins is based on a study known as the JUPITER trial. According to Dr. Ridker, the primary author of the study…”being on a statin can lower your risk of having a heart event by half.” What they found in their research is that those patients taking a statin had a 1.6% risk of having a cardiovascular event while the placebo group had a 2.8% chance of having a cardiovascular event. According to my math, that is a difference of 1.2%. However, the way they look at it is that the statins cut the risk by half, hence the 50% reduction of a heart attack for the group on statins. After all, 57% of 2.8 is 1.6.

Use of statins among people older than 45 has increased tenfold in the past two decades, from 2% in the years 1988 to 1994 to 25% in the years 2005 to 2008, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Americans spent nearly $19 billion on them, according to IMS Health, which researches the drug market.

So now that you understand how the numbers work, would you be as willing to risk the side effects of taking a statin drug knowing that it only offers you a 1.2% potential benefit? Although statins may be beneficial for a small segment of the population, the better alternative for most is to eat right, exercise, manage your stress, and avoid smoking. Never stop taking a medication without discussing it with your doctor first. If you have been experiencing unusual muscle pain and are on a statin, contact your medical doctor immediately and talk to your chiropractor about how to make lifestyle changes that will support a healthy heart.

God Bless and Live Well!

Dr. Buchan and Dr. McComb are board certified doctors of chiropractic and owners of Kingwood Chiropractic Associates. They have extensive education and training in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions, applied clinical nutrition and acupuncture. They are committed to helping you and your families obtain the information which is essential to achieve health and wellness, and through that process empower you to make decisions that will lead to fulfillment of your goals and a life of greater potential. For more information on methods of improving your health, go to