Healthy Living

Are Statins Safe?

Are Statins Safe?

Statins are a class of drugs that help to reduce the levels of cholesterol in blood by inhibiting the enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol in liver. It is one of the most commonly prescribed drug to lower cholesterol levels and to avoid complications like stroke and heart attacks. Statins are often recommended for those who have abnormally high amounts of cholesterol along with a number of other risk factors like family history of heart attack, increasing age and diabetes. It is also suggested for those who are at a high risk for atherosclerosis, but do not have high levels of cholesterol.

Many people have complained about side effects while taking statins, and some complaints include:

Some of the less commonly known side effects of statins include memory loss, confusion, high blood sugar, and Type 2 diabetes.

 In some rare cases, statins may cause serious side effects, which are often life threatening like:

  • Inflammation of the muscles – Also known as myositis, this condition is often seen when statins are taken along with another cholesterol-lowering drug, fibrates. The risk of myositis is much greater when these two drugs are taken together, when compared to taking statins alone.
  • Increased levels of creatine kinase – When the levels of creatine kinase or CPK increase, it may lead to muscle pain, inflammation, and muscle weakness. It may take a long time for the condition to resolve and get back to normal.
  • Rhabdomyolysis – This condition is characterized by very severe muscle inflammation and damage leading to pain and weakness. Proteins are released from the damaged muscles which gradually accumulate in the kidneys. This may affect the functioning of the kidneys leading to kidney failure and even death.

Unexplained pain in the joints, muscles, and weakness while on this medication, should be immediately brought to the attention of a doctor. It is usually not recommended for pregnant women and those with chronic and active liver diseases.

Statins have a number of drug interactions. Some of the drug that interact with statins include:

  • Protease inhibitors
  • Clarithromycin
  • Telithromycin
  • Cyclosporine
  • Telaprevir
  • Voriconazole
  • Diltiazem
  • Itraconazole

There are different types of statins based on their ability to reduce the cholesterol levels in blood. The most potent among the ones available are atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. Your doctor would be the best person to decide on the type and dosage of statins best suited for you.