Date of the last update: 14.02.2023
Statins are a type of medication used by people struggling with high levels of so-called ‘bad cholesterol’, reducing their risk of heart attack or stroke. Most studies indicate that statins are effective and safe, but their side effects should not go unnoticed.
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What are statins?
Statins are a type of medication used to lower blood cholesterol levels by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is involved in the production of cholesterol. Statins have been widely used in the treatment of diabetic dyslipidemias and in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Studies have shown that the use of statins has reduced the number of deaths from heart attacks and ischemic strokes. However, as with most drugs, statins can have serious side effects, as we will explain in the following paragraphs.
Statins and their effects on the human body
The role of statins is to block the cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver, thus reducing the total level of cholesterol in the blood, including ‘bad cholesterol’ or LDL. Statins also reduce inflammation in blood vessels. For statins to effectively reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, patients must follow a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet, as well as practice appropriate physical activity and, if possible, reduce their body weight.
Side effects of taking statins
The most dangerous side effects of statins include liver damage and rhabdomyolysis. For this reason, many experts are adverse to prescribing the long-term consumption of statins, particularly for elderly patients, or for patients taking other drugs in parallel.
Other side effects of statins include:
- nausea and diarrhea,
- sore, weakened muscles (in extreme cases, this can lead to the very dangerous condition of rhabdomyolysis, or muscle breakdown)
- skin irritation
- hair loss
- calcification of atherosclerotic plaques, both in the walls of the main artery and the coronary system
- cataract (clouding of the lens of the eye)
- decreased levels of coenzyme Q10, which is crucial for heart health
- increased risk of diabetes (some studies have shown that taking statins may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes)
In conclusion, although most people taking statins do not experience serious side effects, it is important to monitor any changes in the body whilst consuming them, keeping an eye out for possible side effects. If you detect any signs of the above symptoms, it is important to seek professional help.
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- Plosker G.L., Lyseng-Williamson K.A.: Atorvastatin: a pharmacoeconomic review of its use in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events. Pharmacoeconomics, 2007; 25:1031- 53.
- Omar M.A., Wilson J.P. : FDA adverse event reports on rhabdomyolysis associated with statins. 1:. Ann Pharmacother, 2002; 36: 288-95.
- Dobrowolska I. : Side effects of statins, https://naturopatia-sanatum.pl/blog/35_skutki-uboczne-stosowania-statyn.html, accessed 07.02.2022.