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Statins side effects: Eight common symptoms possibly linked to cholesterol-lowering drug

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Statins are a powerful medicine that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”, and statins reduce the production of it inside the liver. Much confusion arises regarding possible side effects caused by taking the drug. What are eight of the most common symptoms which may be attributed to the drug?

Most people who take statins have no noticeable adverse side effects.

Though side effects can occur, it is important to know the difference between common symptoms of statin use, and the rarer issues that could be a sign of a more serious problem.

Experiencing certain symptoms while taking the drug is most likely to happen just after starting the medication as the body gets used to its presence in the body.

The NHS has identified the most reported side effects which include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Digestive issues – constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion and wind
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Low blood platelet count.

Statins are shrouded with controversy relating to possible side effects.

Many believe they are being wrongly blamed for aches and pains that are likely to come from old age, a study has found.

Doctors fear that tens of thousands die every year from shunning the life-saving pills because they worry about the supposed side effects.

But researchers say patients felt roughly the same levels of muscle pain and stiffness whether they took statins or a placebo pill instead.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine gave 200 patients both statins or dummy pills over six two-month periods.

Neither patients, nor their GP, knew which tablet they were receiving at any given time but all had periods taking both.

At the end of each treatment period, participants rated their muscle symptoms being defined as pain, weakness, tenderness, stiffness, or cramp of any intensity.

No difference was seen in the scores between the statin and placebo periods.

The researchers also found no differences for the effect of muscle symptoms on aspects of daily life – such as mood, ability to walk, sleep or work.

“Your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you,” said the NHS.

The national health body added: “The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems. 

“A review of scientific studies into the effectiveness of statins found around one in every 50 people who take the medicine for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.”

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