is a contribution from a member of THINCS,
The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics
August 19, 2003
Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
One of the commonest causes of transient global amnesia that was not
(Memorable, for the Loss of Memory, August 19) are statin medications.
at the recent Weston-Price Foundation conference, transient global amnesia
"has reached seemingly epidemic proportions in emergency rooms
throughout North America and Europe..All of these cases are associated with
the use of the stronger statin drugs such as Lipitor, Mevacor and Zocor.
Sometimes only weeks go by after the start of the medication before symptoms
begin. In other cases several years might pass before the onset of
symptoms". (see www.spacedoc.net)
Dozens of cases have been documented by the ongoing Statin Safety study at
UCSD and the condition is undoubtedly underreported because most patients
never make it to the emergency room or their complaints are attributed to a
mild stroke in the case of senior citizens. However, many of the victims are
in their forties and fifties whose symptoms occur abruptly and without
warning. Statins, and particularly Lipitor may also be associated with
other cognitive defects such as severe confusion, difficulty in
concentration and recent memory problems that improve with cessation of
therapy. None of this should be surprising since cholesterol is a major
constituent of cerebral structures and is intimately involved in brain
communication so that any interruption in its synthesis might be expected to
have detrimental effects. Statins also interfere with the synthesis of
Coenzyme Q10, a vital component of the electron ransport chain that converts
calories from food to energy. Many patients who experience statin side
effects improve more rapidly after the medication is stopped when Co Q10
supplements are given.
Paul J. Rosch, M.D.
Rosch did not get any answer from New York Times. Here is the article:
for the Loss of Memory
thought my husband, Ralph, was having a stroke. What else could cause a
healthy 54-year-old man suddenly to become disoriented and confused? More
than eight hours after the onset of his symptoms, the attending doctor at
our local E.R. diagnosed a very
strange disorder — amnesia — or transient global amnesia. It is a
temporary brain affliction that affects about 23.5 per 100,000 people every
a second and third opinion, we were convinced that Ralph had experienced
this rare but real phenomenon.
"I see about 150 cases a year," said Dr.
Thomas Chippendale, a neurologist in San Diego and research director at
University of California at San Diego. "There are probably many more
cases out there that have been confused with symptoms of a stroke."
There was no warning. On a beautiful morning at our
home in San Diego, Ralph and I had a few hours free before brunch with his
parents. I caught up on some paperwork while he worked out with some weights
in the garage. With the teenagers away, we even had
time for a romantic interlude.
amnesia came only moments afterward, which is why I thought he had suffered
a ministroke, or transient ischemic attack, which can be caused by
"Where are we going again?" Ralph asked.
"I just don't remember what we're doing today."
He began asking me more questions — over and
over. He had dressed himself in clothes he claimed he had never seen before.
the paramedics pulled up in an ambulance, they took one look at Ralph and
thought they had the wrong house. But after asking him a series of questions
and running a few blood tests, they whisked him away.
At the hospital, I found Ralph joking with the
nurses. He remembered who I was, his name — even his Social Security
number — but not why he was there.
Blood work, a CAT scan and an M.R.I. were performed,
which he promptly forgot about.
He knew our children's names and ages. He did not
know what had happened on 9/11. He did not remember the space shuttle
Columbia disaster, which had occurred only the day before. He had forgotten
our recent trip to Europe, and he thought we lived in a house we had sold 12
His incessant questions grew tedious and I would
occasionally make up a silly answer. He peppered his older brother Frank
with constant questions, too. We were incredulous when the doctor finally
diagnosed the problem. Amnesia?
"People are a little surprised when they hear
about it, that it actually exists," said Dr. Roy Sucholeiki, an
assistant professor of neurology at Loyola University Chicago Medical
"Amnesia," he said, referring to T.G.A.,
"has been a well-described phenomenon for more than 40 years."
"Clinically, it manifests with a paroxysmal,
transient loss of memory function," he continued. "Immediate
recall ability is usually preserved, as is remote memory. But patients can
experience a striking loss of memory for recent events and an impaired
ability to retain
new information. The good thing is it isn't fatal."
A few hours after we returned home that evening,
Ralph's memory had, for the most part returned, except for the previous
eight hours. That has forever been erased.
"It isn't likely to happen again," Dr.
Sucholeiki said. "But there is a small, maybe a 5 percent, chance it
will happen once more, and even a calculated recurrence rate could be as
high as 24 percent over a lifetime, depending on his particular brain."
All of the doctors seemed to agree that the actual
cause was not known. Some say extreme stress can be a factor, or weight
lifting or sex.
Another theory is that it is sometimes set off by
sudden immersion in cold water, but that clearly did not happen in this case.
The doctors also agreed that this episode was not a sign of epilepsy or a
stroke, was not life-threatening and happened more than people knew.
The long-term effects at our house have been
minimal. Ralph has not suffered any visible side effects, although he does
occasionally stop and wonder whether he knows what is going on around him.
It also took us a while to get romantic again.
"At my age, if you're healthy and something
out of the blue hits you, amnesia is the perfect affliction," he
recently told me. "I now have the perfect excuse for forgetting our
anniversary and your birthday."
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