The life-changing side effects of statins you really need to know

Millions of people in the UK taking statin cholesterol-lowering drugs may be unaware of the side effects that could leave them with long-term health problems

Statins can cause nausea but also have more serious side effects(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Statin users should be aware of some of the less pleasant side effects associated with using the drugs, according to health chiefs.

According to the NHS, while most people will experience mild symptoms associated with taking the medicine, some people will experience a greater impact on their health and in rare cases will suffer from other conditions. Long-term conditions can be life-changing. Mild effects may include headache, dizziness, feeling tired, feeling unusually tired or physically weak, digestive system problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, indigestion or bloating, and they can also include muscle pain and difficulty sleeping.

Statins can cause a long-term condition called myasthenia gravis(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Statins are medications that can help reduce levels of “bad cholesterol” made inside the liver. And like all drugs, they can cause side effects, and most people who take them don’t have any real problems. But there are more serious conditions that can occur from taking them, such as vomiting, memory problems, hair loss, itching, hepatitis, skin problems, and in severe cases rather than muscle weakness, called myopathy, tendon problems and loss of mobility. sensation in the nerves.

And the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), recently warned that it had heard a very small number of reports of a rare long-term condition that causes muscle weakness – myasthenia gravis. This condition can often be identified by drooping eyelids, double vision, difficulty making facial expressions, difficulty chewing and swallowing, slurred speech, arm, leg or neck weakness and difficulty breathing. It can affect people of any age, usually starting in women under 40 and men over 60.

There are a number of statin drugs manufactured in the UK and taken by millions of people to help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes – atorvastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin – that have been identified as cancer. risk of this condition. ROsuvastatin has also been associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Most people who develop symptoms of myasthenia gravis recover after stopping the medication, but a few continue to have the disease. And some people who tried a different statin or restarted their medication found their symptoms returned.

The number of suspected cases of myasthenia gravis is “very small”, with just 10 cases reported to the MHRA in the past three decades. Those affected were on average in their 60s and there were no deaths. Most patients begin experiencing symptoms a few days to three months after starting a statin.

And with Rosuvastatin, a study in the British Medical Journal found that 7.2% of people taking the drug developed Type 2 diabetes compared with 5.3% taking atorvastatin. It concluded that “further in-depth investigation with longer follow-up is needed.”

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