Are statins making my hair fall out?


For the past eight years since I suffered a mini-stroke, I’ve been affected by awful fatigue and weakness and there have been days when I could hardly walk or lift my arms.

Even more distressing is that my hair has started falling out.

Around a month ago, I read that statins can cause fatigue (I have been taking these pills for eight years), so I stopped taking them.

There is a slight improvement, but how long will the statin stay in my system?

My doctor is no help and cannot answer my questions. I am 77.

Elsie Williams, by email.

Depression is often characterised by profound exhaustion, weakness, and even hair loss and dry skin

Depression is often characterised by profound exhaustion, weakness, and even hair loss and dry skin

What a terrible time you have been having — understandably you want to find the reason for your debilitating symptoms.

However, I am not convinced your pills are to blame.

If your statin was involved, I would have expected you to feel better very quickly — the drug leaves your system completely after just one day.

While hair loss takes slightly longer to reverse (the hair follicles can take months to switch back into action), I would have expected a much more marked improvement in your energy levels.

Statins were first discovered in the Seventies and were subject to extensive research for 20 years before they became widely available and recommended, and we now have five or six on the market.

There is good evidence to show statins reduce the risk of death in those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease — their risk of heart attack and sudden death drops by 60 per cent, their risk of stroke by 17 per cent.

However, some patients do report muscle pain, cramps, and (less often) gastrointestinal or other symptoms.

In the past two or three years, there has been much talk about impairment of memory and other psychological effects.

But the truth is that these symptoms can also occur among people taking a placebo dummy pill.

In both groups, the symptoms disappear when they stop taking the pills — whether the placebo or the active drug.

What this tells us is that human beings are complicated, they are not machines.


To contact Dr Scurr with a health query, write to him at Good Health Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email — including contact details.

Dr Scurr cannot enter into personal correspondence.

His replies cannot apply to individual cases and should be taken in a general context.

Always consult your own GP with any health worries.

Most of us in middle age and beyond (the era of life when statins are prescribed) have all sorts of aches and pains, as well as complaints with our memory, and it is easy to misattribute this to the statins.

As doctors, we are trying to weigh up the evidence, and sort out the myths from reality.

Rather than focus on statins, I would be tempted to investigate whether you might have suffered a degree of depression following your mini-stroke.

About 30 per cent of patients develop a depressive illness following a stroke, and depression is often characterised by profound exhaustion, weakness, and even hair loss and dry skin.

Bearing all this in mind, here is one thing you could try. Re-start your statin for one or two weeks.

If this pill has been the cause of your symptoms, they will start immediately, and at least you will know for sure the pills are to blame.

At this point, in discussion with your doctor, you could either stop them altogether or try an alternative (you say you are taking simvastatin).

If the response to stopping the statin is borderline, your fatigue and weakness has another cause — depression is a likely culprit — and that really merits the attention of your GP.

After an operation in March for a broken hip and shoulder, I became very unwell in hospital and was barely conscious for two weeks.

When I did come back to the land of the living I noticed I had bed sores on both heels.

I now have district nurses in twice a week to dress these painful sores, but they make it difficult for me to get about.

How does one get these sores, and is it true they can take up to a year to heal?

I am nearly 95 years young.

Lydia Newnham,  Chobham, Surrey.

You have, sadly, been the victim of atrocious neglect: bedsores are the hallmark of poor nursing care.

A bedsore, or pressure ulcer, is an injury to the skin and underlying soft tissue, and is the result of a part of the body being under constant pressure, which restricts the blood supply.

This can lead to the tissue becoming starved of oxygen and nutrients, and in some cases the skin and underlying tissue will die and fall away.

The initial damage would have started when you were bedridden.

Nursing staff are well aware of the need to inspect pressure areas at least twice daily — they should examine the tail bone, heels, elbows and, indeed, any bony point where there is little padding.

You should have been turned, to re-distribute pressure, at least every four hours.

The benefit of this is proven, and despite your immobility, the damage could have been avoided or at least minimised.

You must do all you can at this stage to allow these sores to heal.

A nutritious diet, adequate in both protein and calories is vital, and it might be advisable for you to be seen by a dietitian: your GP should be able to arrange this.

The twice-weekly observations and dressings by the district nurse are ideal, and you must make sure there is no pressure on your heels, except when walking.

A physiotherapist or an occupational therapist may be helpful for strategies for this.

Finally, I urge you to write a letter of complaint to the chief executive of the hospital where you were treated, requesting an explanation and an apology.

Copy the letter to David Behan, the new chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of health and social care, who makes sure (we hope and expect) that standards are what they should be.

I am aware this gives you work to do — but if everyone badgered the regulator, then standards of care everywhere might improve.

By the way ... 

Parents should be ashamed of chubby children

Society needs to take hold of the idea that to create an obese child is a form of abuse

Society needs to take hold of the idea that to create an obese child is a form of abuse

We are told by the Health And Social Care Information Centre that diabetes could render the NHS bankrupt within a generation — it’s not hard to see why: the expenditure on treatment with drugs alone has increased by 50 per cent over the past six years.

The main reason for this looming nightmare is simple: the rise in obesity.

Obesity is due to gluttony — eating more than we need for the energy we expend.

The penalty for this excess weight so many carry is that bodily systems fail.

We simply do not have the physiology to cope and the result is type 2 diabetes.

The larger arteries clog up with cholesterol deposits, causing heart disease and brain rot.

The smaller arteries are also  affected, leading to eye damage  (diabetes is the most common cause of acquired blindness in the so-called civilised world), kidney failure and peripheral nerve damage.

We need to start at the beginning and halt this inexorable march towards obesity and the diseases that spin off from the diabetes that it causes.

This, therefore, is about education of children both at school and at home, as well as an attempt to re-educate parents about how children should be raised.

Society needs to take hold of the idea that to create an obese child is a form of abuse — it is creating a person who will have a shorter and unhealthier life than would be the case otherwise.

If it’s politically acceptable to penalise people for speeding in their cars to limit death on the roads, what have we got to say about, perhaps, penalising those who overfeed their children?

Nothing as yet — but maybe this has to change.

If it is politically correct to dissuade people from smoking, because of the health hazards, what have we got to say about the poisons of too much refined sugar and too much salt?

The time must be coming when it will be essential to put pressure on people to stop them from eating themselves to death.

It costs everyone else so much time and trouble on the way, and the nation — the NHS — cannot afford it.

This is about human behaviour: if we can instil, from an early age, respect for our bodies, encouraging a healthy approach to nutrition along with enjoyment of sport and exercise, and make it a matter of shame to fail in any of these areas, then there may be a shift in this through trend of obesity and diabetes.

Personal responsibility for health, that’s the mantra.

Waiting for the NHS to save you later on from the damage you cause to yourself is for dummies.


The comments below have not been moderated.

From personal experience I would agree with this. The whole-body cramps I experienced were the worst pain ever, and I have had three children. It took almost 2 weeks for the muscle pain to stop after I stopped taking the statin. I'm taking CoQ10. Never again!

Click to rate     Rating   17

Statins deplete Co-enzyme Q10 which causes the weakness and muscle pains. As a pharmacist, I would recommend taking a CoQ10 supplement to see if this helps. The damage caused by statins can take years to reverse depending on how severe it is. I would also suggest ruling out a vitamin B12 deficiency as the symptoms include weakness, fatigue, muscle pain and hair loss. Depression does not cause these symptoms in my experience, although depression can by a symptom of B12 and/or folate deficiency.

Click to rate     Rating   16

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.