Because of the serious risks that accompany high cholesterol, statins have been a choice favorite among doctors to avoid atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. Statins work by blocking a substance your liver needs to make cholesterol, the waxy substance that’s found in fat in your blood. This causes your liver to remove cholesterol from your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, too much can increase your risk of heart disease, block arteries and lead to some very serious or fatal health complications. There are so many people, especially in the US, that qualify for statin use but many of these same people are not properly informed about the risks involved. There are some serious side effects associated with statins, which often go overlooked.
The potential side effects of statins include:
1. Muscle damage
The most common side effect of statins is muscle pain, characterized by a soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles. Pain varies among people who take statins from mild discomfort to severe pain which impedes daily activity. Things as simple as climbing stairs, or taking a stroll can become uncomfortable or even unbearable. A common test used by physicians to ascertain whether there is muscle injury or muscle stress, is a CPK isoenzymes test. This simple blood test measures CPK (creatinine phosphokinase), an enzyme found mainly in heart, brain, and skeletal muscle. If elevated, it could mean muscle injury.
2. Liver damage
Statin use can occasionally cause your liver damage or stress. Signs of possible liver damage could be unusual fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. Because an excess of liver enzymes in the blood is usually a good indicator of compromised liver function, your doctor will most likely order a liver enzyme test either after you begin taking a statin or if you are experiencing any severe symptoms. In cases where liver enzymes are severely elevated, your doctor may advise you stop taking the drug all together.
3. Neurological side effects
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warns of memory loss and confusion as a side effect of statin use. These side effects are said to last only as long as you are taking the medication. The neurological side-effects have not been well studied, however if you experience either of the above symptoms consult your physician.
4. Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
Another FDA issued warning regarding statins that deserves attention is the increased risk of elevated blood sugar levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Risk is said to be small, however it is still important to take note of.
Some other side-effects which have been reported to accompany statin use are:
· digestive problems
· skin flushing