What Are Statins?
Statins are drugs that decrease “bad” cholesterol. Statins help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Several statins are on the market.
Are Statins Safe?
Statins are safe drugs for the most part. Some people have stomach upset, gas, heartburn, or diarrhea with their statin. If you have these symptoms, take your statin with your dinner. Tell your prescriber if these side effects are severe or do not go away.
More serious, but not common, side effects include:
- Liver problems. Before you take your statin, your prescriber will likely check your liver function with a blood test. Tell your prescriber if you have tiredness that is not usual for you, you do not feel hungry, or you feel like throwing up. This is very important if you also have yellow eyes or skin, dark urine, or belly pain. Also tell your prescriber if you have a rash or itching.
- Sore muscles can be a sign of muscle injury. Severe muscle injury can cause your kidneys to shut down if not treated. Tell your prescriber if you have muscle pain, soreness, or weakness. This is very important if you also have a fever, a sick feeling, or dark pee.
- Memory loss and problems thinking. Tell your prescriber if you feel confused, forget things, or have clouded thinking. These problems can go away within a few weeks after stopping the statin. Don’t stop your statin before you talk to your prescriber.
- High blood sugar has happened in patients taking statins. Your prescriber might check your blood sugar before and after you start your statin. Tell your prescriber if you have increased thirst or hunger, or weight loss. Also tell your prescriber if you have blurred vision or are peeing more.
Some medications increase the risk of statin muscle damage. Before you take a new medication, tell your prescriber and pharmacist you are taking a statin. Also talk to them before you take any dietary supplements (niacin, etc). They will check for interactions. Grapefruit interacts with some statins. Ask if you can have grapefruit with your statin.
Potential New Uses for Statins
Some studies show that statins might reduce the risk of dementia, some cancers (prostate, colon), depression, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and osteoporosis. More study is needed, however; it is too soon to use statins to prevent problems other than heart attacks and strokes.
The Bottom Line
Statins are safe for the most part, helping prevent heart attacks and strokes. Tell your prescriber if you have any symptoms that are not usual for you. Always talk to your prescriber or pharmacist before starting a new medication or supplement. Also, continue to follow a low-cholesterol diet to get the most benefit from your statin.
Content taken from Pharmacist’s Letter.