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Cholesterol-lowering drug linked to sleep disruptions
Date:11/7/2007

ORLANDO, Nov. 7 A cholesterol-lowering drug appears to disrupt sleep patterns of some patients, researchers reported at the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions 2007.

The findings are significant because sleep problems can affect quality of life and may have adverse health consequences, such as promoting weight gain and insulin resistance, said Beatrice Golomb, M.D., lead author of the study and an associate professor of medicine and family and preventive medicine at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers compared two types of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins simvastatin, which is lipophilic (soluble in fats), and pravastatin, which is hydrophilic (soluble in water).

Because simvastatin is fat soluble it can more readily penetrate cell membranes and cross the blood brain barrier into the brain. The brain controls sleep, and many of the brains nerve cells are wrapped in a fatty insulating sheath called myelin.

The results showed that simvastain use was associated with significantly worse sleep quality. A significantly greater number of individuals taking simvastatin reported sleep problems than those taking either pravastain or the placebo, Golomb said. On average, the lipophilic statin had a greater adverse effect on sleep quality.

In past studies and case reports, some people on statins reported having insomnia or nightmares.

Several small studies were done early on, including those focused on lipophilic versus hydrophilic statins, Golomb said. Most (researchers) didnt see a difference in sleep, but they had short durations of follow-up and enrolled just a handful of people often fewer than 20, which was not enough to see a difference unless it was very large.

One of these studies did report a significant difference between pravastatin and simvastatin. But without more and bigger studies, an effect was not considered to be established.
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Contact: Karen Astle
karen.astle@heart.org
214-706-1392
American Heart Association
Source:Eurekalert

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