No doubt, the statins lower cholesterol levels and perhaps do lower the risk of dying from a heart attack, at least in patients who already have had one, but the size of the effect is unimpressive. In one of the experiments for instance, the CARE trial, the odds of escaping death from a heart attack in five years for a patient with manifest heart disease was 94.3 %, which improved to 95.4 % with statin treatment. This is a difference of 1.1 percent. Surely not worth all the hype these medications have received.
The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported on an analysis of all the major controlled trials before the year 2000 and found that long-term use of statins for primary prevention of heart disease produced a 1 percent greater risk of death over 10 years compared to a placebo.
Potential Side Effects
The acknowledged side effects of statins include muscle pain and weakness, suppression of the body’s formation of Co-enzyme Q10, and, rarely, a potentially fatal muscle-wasting disorder called rhabdomyolysis. One statin, Baycol, has been withdrawn because it was linked to 31 deaths from rhabdomyolysis. Interference with production of Co-Q10 by statin drugs is the most likely explanation. The heart is a muscle and it cannot work when deprived of Co-Q10. See more about heart disease and solutions.
Calcium-channel blockers include the drugs Diltiazem (Cardizem CD®, Cardizem SR®, Dilacor XR®), Nifedipine (Procardia XL®), and Verapamil (Calan®, Calan SR®, Isoptin®, Isoptin SR®, Verelan®).
Calcium-channel blockers slow the rate at which calcium passes to the contractile fibers of heart muscle and into the vessel walls, a sequence that relaxes the vessels. Relaxed vessels allow the blood to flow more easily, thereby reducing blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers are used to treat chest pain (angina), high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and irregular heat beats (arrythmias).
In 1995, the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to add a warning to the labeling of all calcium channel blockers. This action was in light of observational studies which revealed that calcium channel blockers increase the risk of heart attack and death.
Common side effects associated with calcium channel blockers are fatigue, flushing, swelling of the abdomen, ankles, or feet, and heartburn. Less common side effects are changes in heart rate, either tachycardia or bradycardia (slow heart rate), shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, and dizziness, numbness in hands and feet, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Chest pains, jaundice, and fainting are rarely reported
Beta-blockers “block” the effects of adrenaline (and norepinephrine) on cells beta-receptors. This slows the nerve impulses stimulate the heart so that the heart does not work as hard. Beta-blockers are generally prescribed to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), congestive heart failure (CHF), abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and chest pain (angina). Beta-blockers are sometimes used in heart attack patients to prevent future attacks. Commonly prescribed beta- blockers include: Atenolol (Tenoretic®, Tenormin®), Metoprolol (Lopressor®, Toprol XL®), Nadolol (Corgard®), and Propranolol (Inderal®).
Beta blockers have several potential side effects including congestive heart failure, shortness of breath, heart block, fatigue, lethargy, drowsiness, depression, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, tingling in the hands and feet, wheezing, bronchospasm, increases severity of asthma or chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, decreased sex drive, muscle fatigue, reduces HDL (good cholesterol), increases LDL and triglycerides.
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
Commonly prescribed ACE inhibitors include Captopril (Capoten®), Enalapril (Vasotec®), and Lisinopril, (Prinivil®, Zestril®).
Drugs that inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) decrease sodium and water retention, reduce blood pressure, improve cardiac output, and typically decrease heart size.
ACE inhibitors are used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), arrhythmia and hypertension. Following a heart attack, patients may be prescribed ACE inhibitors to prevent further damage to the heart. ACE inhibitors may also be prescribed for kidney problems associated with diabetes.
Potential side effects include a dry cough, gastrointestinal disturbances, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, joint pain, fever, lightheadedness, and fatigue.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
These drugs are known as ARBs and are better tolerated than the older ACE drugs. ARBs prevent angiotensin II from binding to the receptor sites that allow it stimulate arterial blood vessel constriction. It is also prevented from releasing aldosterone. These medications which include Diovan, Benicar, Micardis, Avapro, Cozaar, Teveten, and Atacand, are used to treat hypertension and CHF.
Potential side effects to these medications include headache, upper respiratory infection, cough, dizziness, sinusitis, throat inflammation, diarrhea, fatigue, back pain, viral infections, and abdominal pain.
Apresoline, Vasodilan and Loniten (Minoxidil) are direct vasodilating drugs. Vasodilating drugs act on blood vessels, opening the vessel by relaxing the muscular walls. These medications are used along with other cardiovascular drugs; used alone they can cause increased heart rate, fluid retention and swelling. These drugs have potential side effects which include systemic lupus erythematosus, headache, fatigue, low blood pressure, palpitations, increased heart rate, fluid retention, nasal congestion, weight gain, and increased body hair.
Cardiac glycosides are obtained from the plants digitalis purpurea and digitalis lanata or their semi-synthetic derivatives. These medications are commonly used for CHF because they increase the force of cardiac contraction without significantly affecting other cardiovascular mechanisms. Cardiac glycosides include Digoxin®, Digitoxin, Lanoxin®, Purgoxin®, and Crystodigin®.
Potential side effects include arrythmia (abnormal heart beat), heart block, confusion, weakness, blurred vision, mental disturbances, and apathy.
Digoxin causes over 28,000cases of life-threatening or fatal adverse reactions each year.
Diuretics reduce edema (fluid retention) and lower blood pressure by reducing sodium and water retention. The three types of diuretics (thiazides, potassium-sparing diuretics, and high-loop diuretics) all work differently, but the goal is to lower blood pressure and or heart fluid (CHF). These medications include Oretic, Euduron, Reneses, Hygroton, Bumex, Lasix, Anhydron, Diuril, Edecrin, Demadex, Dyrenium, Aldactone, Midamor, Zaroxolyn, and Lozol.
They may cause the following side effects; Excessive uric acid in the blood (gout), magnesium deficiency, potassium deficiency, electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, lowered HDL, excessive sugar in the blood (diabetes), fever, rash, irregular menstrual cycles (Aldosterone), impotence (same), and excessive urination and thirst.
Diuretics have been shown to cause an eleven-fold increase in diabetes.
Coumadin is an anticoagulant medication. It is used to prevent blood clots from forming within the arteries. This is the same drug used to poison rats! It can cause several adverse reactions all associated with internal bleeding, including loss of consciousness, bloody or tarry stools, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, constipation, abdominal pain, swelling in the ankles and feet, blue or purple toes, rashes, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, unusual weight gain, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, and sores or white spots in the mouth.
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For more information on the potential dangers of common cardiovascular drugs “Heart Disease What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You” is available at Barnes and Noble or on line.