According to the [American Heart Association], "Statin drugs are very effective for lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and have few immediate short-term side effects. But others beg to differ.
Over the past year, the FDA found that Baycol, a statin which was taken off the market in August of 2001, increased the risk of contracting Rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal muscle-wasting disease. Although the FDA went on to say that it is 10 times more dangerous than other statins such as Lipitor, Zocor, and Pravachol, [Health Canada] has now issued a warning against all statins, saying that they can cause severe muscle damage in certain patients.
Health Canada requires the manufacturers of the statins Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Mevacor, and Crestor to include an enhanced warning about the potential risks posed to patients in the safety-information packet included with the drugs.
It is estimated that 12 million Americans take cholesterol-lowering drugs, with statins the most commonly prescribed. Although no information is currently available from the U.S. regarding any of these 12 million users suffering side effects, a recent report from the Canadian adverse drug-reaction database indicates that statins were linked to a total of 1,739 adverse event reports filed between 1988 and 2003. Most of those reports, 1,024 to be exact, were considered to be severe.
What are Statins?
Various medications can lower blood cholesterol levels. They may be prescribed individually or in combination with other drugs. Some of the common types of cholesterol-lowering drugs include statins.
Statins lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. Statins block the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol. There is good cholesterol and it is necessary in the functioning of every cell in our body. But it also contributes to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, which can lead to angina (chest pain), stroke and heart attack.
Statins have been Linked to some very Dangerous Side Effects.
The most common side effects are headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, headache, rash, weakness, and muscle pain.
The most serious side effects are liver failure and rhabdomyolysis, damage to the muscles. Rhabdomyolysis often begins as muscle pain and can progress to loss of muscle cells, kidney failure, and death. It occurs more often when statins are used in combination with other drugs that themselves cause rhabdomyolysis or with drugs that prevent the elimination of statins and raise the levels of statins in the blood.
Statins currently available in the U.S. and it's manufacturers include:
• Lipitor (atorvastatin) - Pfizer
• Zocor (simvastatin) - Merck
• Pravachol (pravastatin) - Bristol-Myers Squibb
• Lescol (fluvastatin) - Novartis
• Mevacor (lovastatin) - Merck
• Crestor (rosuvastatin) - AstraZeneca
The risks associated with statins can be increased for any of the following patients:
• patients who are pregnant or breast feeding
• patients who have thyroid problems
• patients who consume three or more alcoholic drinks per day
• patients who are taking other cholesterol-lowering medications such as fibrates or niacin
• patients who are taking other medications or natural health products
• patients with any past muscle problems after taking a statin
• patients with kidney or liver problems
• patients with diabetes
• patients who are undergoing surgery
If you experience unexplained joint or muscle pain while taking statins, bring it to the attention of your doctor immediately.