Statins are a class of drugs which function to lower the cholesterol levels within the blood. The HMG-CoA reductase (hydroxyl-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase) inhibitors contained in the drugs help reduce the cholesterol production in the liver. The medication works by blocking particular enzyme in the liver which is responsible for the production of cholesterol. As high levels of cholesterol is commonly associated with cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart disease and vascular disease), hence statins are used in the prevention of the diseases as well as other cholesterol-related diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Similar to other medications, taking statins to lower your cholesterol levels is not without risk. The drugs have side effects, ranging from mild to severe ones. However, not all patients who receive this medication are affected by the side effects. People who are at greater risk of experiencing unpleasant side effects are females, patients age 65 years old or older, those with smaller body figure, patients with kidney disease, liver disease, and type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and those who take multiple drugs for lowering cholesterol levels.
Adverse effects of statins among others are:
1. Muscle pain
This is the most common side effect of the drugs. This also includes muscles tiredness, weakness, and soreness. The intensity of the pain can be light or severe. In very rare cases, statins may cause muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) which is very dangerous. If left untreated, rhabdomyolysis may lead to liver and kidney failure and even death.
2. Digestion problems
Although uncommon, statins can also cause side effects to the digestive system such as gas, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. To prevent this side effect, it is better to take the medication during evening meals.
Taking statins combined with other medication such as niacin may lead to the development of rash. To prevent this from happening, consume aspirin prior to taking the drugs. However, you need to consult your doctor before deciding to take the aspirin as a remedy for the rash.
4. Liver damage
In rare cases, the drugs can increase production of enzymes liver. These enzymes are used to aid the digestion of food, drinks, and drugs. If the increase is mild, it is considered safe that you can continue the treatment. On the other hand, if the increase is significant, the medication should be stopped since it can be life-threatening that your liver can be damaged. Since liver damage might occur without symptoms, patients who take statins as medication should undergo regular liver check for prevention.