Cholesterol lowering drugs that fit into the category of statins have recently been linked to increases in aggression and irritability in women who take them. The finding of the study supporting this information was recently published in Plos One.

What are statins?

Statins are drugs designed to block the enzyme produced in the liver that produces cholesterol. By blocking the production of the cholesterol people have a lower risk of suffering from cardiac episodes like heart attacks and strokes.
When the body produces excessive amounts of cholesterol, this causes the build-up of plaque in the arteries leading to the heart. The build-up reduces the amount of blood flow that goes through the body, and eventually causes the person to suffer from things like strokes.
Statins are also believed to have the power to stabilize the plaque that is in the arteries. If a small piece of plaque moves so that it completely blocks off the artery it is in the person may have a heart attack severe enough to result in death. The taking of the statin medications reduces the chances that the plaque will move thus reducing the chances of a heart attack.

The Clinical Study

The clinical trial had one thousand participants. The participants were both male and female, and some were given the statins while others were given a placebo. All of the women in the study were pre-menopausal, and the study lasted for a six month period.
The result was that the men showed no increase in aggression, whether they were on the statins or the placebo. Some men did show a slight decrease in aggression when they were on the statin instead of the placebo. This result in men is not surprising since statins typically reduce testosterone levels.
The aggressive behavior of the participants was measured by taking into account the following:
• Aggressive acts against other individuals
• Aggressive acts against themselves
• Aggressive acts against objects
• Angry outburst
The number of aggressive displays that the person had the week prior to the beginning of taking the medication was measured against the number of aggressive outbursts the people had after being on the cholesterol lowering medication.

What this means to Health care professionals

The results of the study show that the increases in aggression were minor. The study findings do not indicate that taking statins increase aggressive behavior to the point that the individual would be at risk of committing a heinous felony, only that the person might be at risk of being more easily agitated, and more apt to have an angry outburst.
The statins positive benefits still far outweigh any bad benefits that could be a result of increased aggression. Doctors should counsel their female patients on the possibility of increased irritability, and the possible increase in angry outbursts.

More Studies needed

There will have to be more studies performed before researchers can say why statins affect women in this manner. The lowering of testosterone levels usually means less aggression.