Lately, we hear a lot about statins, their benefits, side effects and the health risks they carry. While there are doctors who prescribe them as effective cholesterol drugs, others warn of their uncontrolled use and the unwanted side effects. Confusing, is it not?
What Are Statins?
The first discovered statin agent, the mevastatin, is a hypolipidemic agent isolated from the fungus Penicillium citrinum. A number of statins are obtained in a similar way, while others are completely synthetic. These medications block the enzymes that the organism needs to synthetize cholesterol. And, the desired result of this action is to lower the bad cholesterol in the human body.
Clinical studies show that these cholesterol-lowering drugs can help reduce the risk of heart disease by 25 percent. According to some estimates, in the United States alone, more than 33 million people use statins.
If you’re at risk of a heart disease or other cardiovascular problems, then statins might be the best medicine for your health condition. If you use them reasonably and with regular controls, we can say that they are effective and safe. But, this is a serious class of drugs and you should not take them lightly. Namely, they should come hand-in-hand with a balanced nutrition and regular exercise, and they are by no means a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.
Who Should Take Statins?
This is a medicine for people with high cholesterol levels and high risk of heart disease. Health experts define the risk by age, total levels of good and bad blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and whether you are a smoker or not. Also, they take the history of the disease and genetic heritage into consideration.
The decision to take this medicine should be made according to the recommendations of your doctor, who should also consider your specific health risk factors.
As already mentioned, in order to be effective, statins should be combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Pregnant women should certainly avoid their use. Also, if combined with certain medications, they can have dangerous interactions and side effects.
Side Effects And Risks Of Using Statins
Just as with many other medications, statins carry certain risks. In 2012, the FDA (Federal Drug Agency) requested statin manufacturers to add a few more risks to their labels, some of them being memory loss, confusion and diabetes.
For example, even though the increase in blood sugar levels is small, for people who already have high blood sugar, this might mean diabetes.
A much more frequent consequence of using statins is the sensitivity of the muscles, which can be quite intense, and occurs in 5 percent of patients. For this reason, it is necessary to go to regular medical examinations. And, if the muscle pain is associated with these drugs, you need to switch to another type of medication.
While some people tolerate statins quite well, in others, you can find the following side effects:
– Memory loss
– Sleep disturbances
– Loss of the upper layer of the skin (peeling skin)
– Muscle pain, sensitivity, weakness
– Muscle inflammation (myositis)
– Increased levels of creatine kinase
– Stomach cramps and pain
– Diarrhea or constipation
– Skin rash
– Increase liver enzymes
– Worsening asthma symptoms
– Type 2 diabetes
– Neurological side effects
If you experience any of the aforementioned side effects, contact your doctor immediately and change your cholesterol-lowering drugs.