Are Statin Drugs Too Risky?

(March 17, 2012) Doctors often prescribe statin drugs for patients with high cholesterol in order to lower their cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. Statins work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body absorb cholesterol that has built up as plaque in your arteries, preventing further blockage in your vessels and heart attacks.  Most people taking statins will take them for the rest of their lives, which can compromise theif liver.

 

Some well-known statin medications include atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), as well as others. There are now lower cost generic versions available, as well.

 

Side effects of statins:

For some patients, the side effects of statins are not worth the benefits they can offer. The risks and benefits must be considered before you stop taking this medication.

 

One of the most common side effects of statin use is muscle pain and damage. It may feel like typical muscle soreness or tiredness and weakness in your muscles. It can be a mild discomfort, or can be so severe that it makes activities of daily living difficult. Some patients complain of stair climbing as being painful, while others complain that even walking is uncomfortable.

 

In rare cases, statins can cause life threatening muscle damage, called rhabdomyolysis (severe muscle pain), liver damage, kidney failure and death. Rhabdomyolysis can develop when taking statins with certain drugs, or from high doses of statins.

 

On occasion, statin use causes the liver to increase production of enzymes that aid in the digestion of food, drinks, and medications. If this increase is mild, statin use can be continued. If the increase is severe, on rare occasions, that particular statin must be discontinued. However, your doctor may suggest a different statin. It is recommended to receive a liver enzyme test before, or as soon as the statin drug regimen has begun. This test will not need repeating unless symptoms of liver problems arise. You must seek professional help if you have severe fatigue, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen, dark yellow urine, or yellowing (jaundice) of your skin or eyes.

 

Other side effects of statin use are nausea, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. However, these side effects are not common. Patients with digestive issues are more likely to experience these symptoms.

 

It is also possible your blood sugar may increase, leading to the development of type 2 diabetes. Although the risk is small, the FDA has issued this warning on the labels of statins.

 

Some studies have questioned whether statins could be linked to memory loss or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Although there is little evidence that statins cause Lou Gehrig’s disease, the FDA warns on the labels of statins that some patients have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. When the statins are stopped, the symptoms disappear.

 

Are you at risk of developing side effects from statins?

Some people may be at a greater risk from statins than others. The risk factors include: taking multiple medications to lower cholesterol, females are at higher risk than males, smaller body frames, patients ages 65 and older, having kidney or liver disease, and those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

If you or a loved one have experienced adverse reactions from the use of statins, feel free to contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878), or stop by our website. Follow us on Twitter, and become a fan of our Facebook page.

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