I was pondering my next post, when I received some sad new today, the death of Duane Graveline.
‘Very sorry to report that Duane Graveline died in hospital this evening after a very short illness.
I run the spacedoc.com site and I just got off the phone with his wife Suzanne.
I thought that you would be able to let everyone on the THINCS group know.
I know he had many friends there.
I never met Duane Graveline in person, but we communicated regularly. He was a doctor who trained as an astronaut with NASA. Sadly, he never made it into space. He was also a dedicated researcher and aerospace doctor https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duane_Graveline
Superficially at least, a very conventional doctor, he was found to have a high cholesterol and his doctor put him on statins. He was initially grateful for this, firmly believing that raised cholesterol caused heart disease.
He then suffered an episode of transient global amnesia (TGA). A scary event, where you forget who you are or where you are, for a short period. Initially, he feared that he had suffered a stroke, but he had not. He stopped his statin, then re-started, and suffered another episode of TGA. His doctor assured him that the statin could not have been the cause.
However, he began to research transient global amnesia and a possible connection with statins. He found many other people who had suffered exactly the same symptoms – whilst on statins. An adverse effect still not listed, or accepted, by the medical profession. The normal response is that… statins don’t do that.
Following this, and with his faith in statins and the cholesterol hypothesis, seriously damaged, he concentrated his efforts into looking at all of the potential adverse effects that these drugs may cause. He had been repeatedly told that statins were absolutely safe and side effect free. He had been confidently informed that his own adverse effects were nothing to do with statins. A sadly familiar story to me. However, he no longer believed such reassurances, and set about trying to discover the truth.
One area where he focussed attention, probably due to his background in aerospace medicine, was a growing concern that any airline pilot taking a statin could suffer an episode of TGA – and simply forget how to fly the plane [an issue he raised that worries me still].
Shortly after (I am not entirely sure on the timeline here) he developed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Called Lou Gehrig’s disease in the US – I believe. This condition is normally fatal within a couple of years. But his syndrome did not develop that rapidly. He believes, and so do I, that his ALS was caused by statins, and was therefore not true ALS. Difficult to prove, but there have been many other recorded cases, and the WHO issued a warning about a possible association between statins and ALS.
In time Duane became the most outspoken critic of statins – that I know of. He wrote books on the subject, including ‘Lipitor, thief of memory.’ And ‘The statin damage crisis.’ He set up the website spacedoc.com where he collected an immense amount of data on statins and adverse effects data.
There was also ground-breaking research on co-enzyme Q10, trans-fatty acids and much else to do with CVD. In addition to this, he was gathering and compiling data from the FDA Medwatch database, and putting together an extensive and scary list of all the reported statin adverse effects [the tip of an iceberg]. For example, he calculated at least eight hundred recorded deaths from rhabdomyolysis.
He was not a zealot. He believed that statins do have benefits in CVD. He believed these benefits were due to anti-inflammatory actions – nothing to do with lowering cholesterol levels. Following from this, he thought that the beneficial, anti-inflammatory, effects of statins could be obtained at very low doses. Doses that would not cause severe adverse effects. We disagreed on the inflammatory aspect of CVD – but agreed on pretty much everything else. He sent me papers he had written, asking for my input and editing. I obliged when I could.
He was an energetic man, an honest man, and a man who was trying to do his best to help people, even into his ninth decade. He will be sorely missed.