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The People's Pharmacy

Vytorin blamed for memory loss episode

Reader stops taking statin after eight hours of amnesia, seeks alternative remedy for high cholesterol.

January 24, 2011|By Joe Graedon and Theresa Graedon, Special to the Los Angeles Times

My doctor prescribed Vytorin for high cholesterol. While my cholesterol went from over 350 to 190 in five weeks, I ended up having an eight-hour episode of transient global amnesia (TGA). I knew who I was, and I recognized my family and friends, but I didn't know the year. I didn't recognize streets I have driven for many years. I asked my husband the same five questions in the hospital over and over until late in the evening, when my memory returned.

I immediately went off Vytorin. I don't want high cholesterol, but I do want to remember where I live. I'd like to try something else for controlling my cholesterol. Do you have any ideas?

We have heard from many readers who have experienced memory problems on statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as Vytorin. One man forgot how to shift his sports car into gear. Another forgot the route to work.

Several other kinds of medicines may help in your quest to control cholesterol. Also, ask your doctor about psillium, niacin, fish oil, fibrates and bile acid binders.

What is a safe home remedy for severe night sweats and hot flashes? I'm burning up and sleepless in Bellville, Texas.

There is some research to suggest that herbal remedies such as Pycnogenol (French pine bark extract), black cohosh and St. John's wort (hypericum) may offer relief. Eating yams or fermented soy products such as miso or tempeh also may be helpful.

Regular exercise and turning down the thermostat are both simple approaches that might reduce the annoyance of hot flashes.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition.

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