I talk to patients every day about the importance of cholesterol. I can say that somewhere around 60% of my patients come in on statin medications and also complain of statin related problems such as, poor memory, leg pain, headaches or difficulty sleeping.
You see, cholesterol is integral to a healthy physiology. 25% of the cholesterol in our bodies is found in the brain. A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health provided evidence that the best memory function was found in in elderly patients with HIGHER levels of low density cholesterol. Cholesterol is required in order to maintain healthy cell walls. See below, the phospholipid bilayer is the wall of our cell and we require protein, carbohydrates and, you guessed it, cholesterol for proper function.
Additionally, cholesterol is the backbone of our steroid hormones. By reducing cholesterol, libido will diminish, energy will fall, and your natural hormone cycles will be disrupted.
I am often educating people about the fact that although statins are effective at reducing cholesterol levels, they are not effective at reducing mortality related to cardiovascular events. I was thrilled to see a recent article in the NY Times about the problems with the use of statins in women: A New Women's Issue: Statins I encourage you to take the time to read it.
What it all comes down to is that we need to ask our doctor the right questions, educate ourselves on all medications prescribed and advocate for ourselves. If you Doctor thinks that statins are right for you, request lab work to look at the particle size of your cholesterol, like the VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) or LPP (Lipoprotein Particle Profile) test. I am happy to order these tests for you in the case that your doctor does not support your choices. I always suggest looking for a new Doctor if you feel intimidated or unheard by whomever your working with.