Do Your Statin Drugs Cause Muscle Pain?

Myalgia or muscle pain is a common complaint made by patients on cholesterol-lowering “statin” drugs. Oftentimes the muscle pain, cramps, weakness, and tenderness become intolerable and patients must discontinue statin drug therapy.

Consequences of Low Vitamin D

A study of over 5,500 patients averaging 56 years old found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency, statin* use, and the development of statin-induced myalgia (SIM). Vitamin D blood levels of 30-40 ng/mL are considered ideal. When patients had low vitamin D levels  (≤15 ng/mL) at the time they started on the statin drug, SIM was accurately predicted.

*60% of the patients used Atorvastatin, a.k.a. Lipitor®
 29% of the patients used Simvastatin, a.k.a. Zocor®

In another study presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions, the following results were presented:

  • 81.3% had SIM when vitamin D levels <30 ng/mL
  • 17.6% had SIM when vitamin D levels >30 ng/mL
  • 62.1% had SIM when vitamin D levels <20 ng/mL
  • Four-fold higher rate of statin-induced myalgias occurred when vitamin D levels <20 ng/mL

They found low vitamin D is common in patients with hyperlipidemia
(abnormal lipid levels) — i.e., high cholesterol, high LDLs, low HDLs, high triglycerides.

Treatment for Statin Intolerance

Consult with your physician about your intolerance to your prescribed statin medication. Statin-induced myalgias are often treated by:     Continue reading “Do Your Statin Drugs Cause Muscle Pain?”

10 Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings

In “The #1 Biggest Mistake That Affects Blood Pressure Readings“, wrong blood pressure cuff size topped the list as one of the most frequent errors made when measuring blood pressure. Be conscious of the following factors the next time you get a blood pressure reading. They can affect it by 5 to 50 points, and artificially high or low readings could affect your medical treatment.

1. Arm Position

Correct blood pressure arm position

Your palm should be facing up and your arm should be supported and horizontal at the level of the midpoint of your sternum (chest bone) which is at the approximate level of the right atrium of your heart. It may be necessary to place a pillow under your arm or adjust the chair or table to achieve the correct position.

  • If your upper arm is BELOW the level of the right atrium, your blood pressure readings will be too high (blood is flowing down into the arm).
  • If the upper arm is ABOVE heart level, the readings will be too low (blood is flowing down from the arm).

Researchers studied a group of outpatients to determine the effects of arm position on blood pressure measurements. Blood pressures were taken and compared in the following arm positions:

  1. Sitting with arms hanging down and elbows resting on the armrests of a chair (i.e., the elbow is at a right angle)
  2. Sitting with arms supported at the level of the mid-sternum
Blood pressure should be read with arm supported at the level of the mid-sternum

The results showed that blood pressure readings were significantly higher when sitting with arms on the armrest of the chair. Readings can be over 10 mm Hg higher in both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) pressures.

Blood pressure readings are elevated significantly when the arm is hanging down.

In another study of 100 random emergency room patients, blood pressures were compared in two positions: 1) Arm lax and hanging down parallel to the body and 2) Arm in the “correct” position. Among the seated patients, 22% of them were diagnosed with hypertension, but twice as many patients were diagnosed with high blood pressure with the arm hanging down. Be sure to note the position of your arm whenever a clinician takes your blood pressure.   Continue reading “10 Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings”

The Starbucks® Effect | Is Caffeine Shortening Your Life?

starbucks-grande-coffee

Would you ever drink a cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee at 2:00 AM, then wonder why you can’t fall asleep? Well, you may as well be doing that if you start each day with a grande-size coffee streaming through your veins.

Here’s why… Caffeine has a lasting effect — a half life of five to six hours to be exact. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you flush down the porcelain throne.)

See How It Breaks Down

Coffee cup with abstract white steamDue to the half-life of caffeine and the amount of caffeine in one grande-size Starbucks® coffee, if you drank one every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 44 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to a 6-oz cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee. See how it’s calculated:  The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande Per Day for Three Days“. 

Caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume caffeine throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food or even medication. 

If you drink a Starbucks® short (8-oz cup) at 2:00 PM every afternoon in addition to your 8:00 AM morning grande, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 91 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to one 12-oz Starbucks® iced brewed coffee (a clue to why you may not be able to fall asleep during the week). See how it’s calculated: “The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande and One Short Per Day for Three Days“.

Your Personal Buzz (Half-Life Variables)

The half-life of caffeine is  not a fixed number and can vary from three to over seven hours based on the individual. Variables include your:    Continue reading “The Starbucks® Effect | Is Caffeine Shortening Your Life?”

Why Medical IDs Protect Heart Patients

emergency_SOURCEIf you’re suddenly unaware of your surroundings or unable to help yourself due to symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or disorientation from high or low blood glucose, a medical ID can tell your story when you can’t speak for yourself. The purpose of a medical ID is to alert paramedics, EMTs and medical professionals to your condition when they only have precious seconds to begin lifesaving care.

Wearing a medical ID 24/7 can save your life. When you have a potentially life-threatening health condition and/or have a cardiac device, emergency responders need to know for various reasons. Many cardiac patients also have other chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or dementia that can affect treatment.

Medical Condition(s) Alert

Consider wearing a medical ID if you have any of the following:

  • Chronic or history of coronary heart disease, including:
    • Angina
    • Arrhythmias
    • Heart transplant
    • Coronary artery bypass graft
    • Previous MI (myocardial infarction/heart attack)
    • Previous SCA (sudden cardiac arrest)
    • Stroke risk: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation (A-fib), tobacco smoking, metabolic syndrome
  • Chronic disease, such as diabetes or dementia
  • Cardiovascular device, such as:
    • Coronary artery stent
    • Artificial heart valve
    • Pacemaker or ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator)
  • Food, drug or insect allergy that can cause an anaphylactic reaction
  • Sensitivity to medications
  • Rare blood type

Implanted Medical Device Alert

Alert emergency personnel to metal implants

Certain metals used in implantable devices, such as a stent, artificial valve, pacemaker, and ICD, may be “ferromagnetic” which means they are attracted to magnets. This may mean you cannot have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) if you are injured. MRIs are becoming more widely used as a diagnostic tool since they use large magnets and radio-frequency waves (not radiation) to produce pictures of your body’s internal structures.   Continue reading “Why Medical IDs Protect Heart Patients”

Height and Heart Disease

A study by the European Society of Cardiology reported short people had a fifty percent higher risk of having heart disease.  Heart problems included angina (chest pain), heart attack, and angioplasty (the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel).   Continue reading “Height and Heart Disease”