Monday, 19 July 2010

Statins, anti-cholesterol drugs, may lead to depression

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 23: Statins, the anti-cholesterol drugs, may be good for the heart, but they are bad for the brain.
A team of researchers from the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has found that the commonly used drugs to lower cholesterol levels will cause depression in patients. This is the first time that a link has been established between statins and depression. Statins are good for the heart as they prevent heart attack.
These drugs, according a research study just published in the international journal, Biochemistry, may affect the activity of certain chemical produced by the brain to maintain the mood and behaviour of an individual. Since this chemical’s natural activity is disturbed by statins, the person using them may be subjected to bouts of anxiety and depression.
Doctors worldwide blame heart attacks on a special type of fat present in the body called cholesterol. Cholesterol is good for the body but when it is present in excess amount in the body it forms a layer inside the blood vessels, particularly those supplying blood to the heart. The narrowing down of the coronary arteries lead to less or no supply of blood to the heart, leading to the death of heart muscles or heart attack.
Doctors prescribe statins to heart patients in a bid to control the cholesterol level, and thus cardiac arrest. With heart problems being reported in young patients these days, patients are subjected to use of statins for longer periods. Continuous use of statins will hit the brain activity, causing depression, the CCMB scientists pointed out.
The CCMB study, led by senior scientist Dr Amitabha Chattopadhyay, throws light on the link between statins and depression. “Statins impair the function of the receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that controls mood and behavior,” the team said.
The study further revealed that long-term treatment with statins caused significant changes in the structure and function of serotonin receptors. “Chronic, low cholesterol levels in the brain may trigger anxiety and depression”, the study observed.

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