Drug News: If You’re Taking Statins for Cholesterol or Beta Blockers for Hypertension, Read This.

statins and beta blockers have unintended side effectsStatin drugs are remarkably successful in reducing cholesterol for millions of men. They’ve also helped lower the risk of other cardiovascular events (such as heart attack and stroke). But, as with just about everything else in life, there’s the Law of Unintended Consequences. One of those consequences is severe muscle pain and weakness. And a team of researchers in Copenhagen have identified the culprit: decreased levels of a very important compound in our blood, coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10.

What happens is that statins affect energy production in the muscles, and the associated pain and weakness get worse as activity levels increase (up to 75 percent of statin-taking athletes experience these side effects). The major problem here is that the pain is often so severe that it makes people either stop exercising or stop taking their medication. Obviously, neither of those options is a good one.
Like statins, beta blockers are a remarkably effective drug—in this case, for treating hypertension (high blood pressure). However, as with statins, there are unintended consequences—in this case, trouble sleeping.

Dr. Frank Scheer and his colleagues had men and women with high blood pressure who were already taking beta blockers, also take either 2.5 milligrams of melatonin or a placebo every night for three weeks (study participants didn’t know which they were taking).

The results were quite impressive. People taking melatonin slept an average of 36 minutes longer per night and increased their stage two sleep (the especially restful and rejuvenating sleep) by 41 minutes, when compared to those taking the placebo.

In previous studies, one of the downsides to taking melatonin is that there has been a “rebound effect”—meaning that if you stop taking it, it gets harder to fall asleep. However, in this study, that was not the case. In fact, according to Dr. Scheer, an associate neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Melatonin had a positive carry-over effect on sleep even after the participants had stopped taking the drug.”

If you’re taking a statin drug, ask your medical provider whether you should take a CoQ10 supplement (if you’re not sure whether you’re taking a statin drug, ask your provider). And if you’re taking beta blockers and are having any issues with sleep, ask your provider about whether melatonin is right for you.

Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, mrdad.com. You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.
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