Side effects of statins
Statins are medications that are effective in helping to reduce 'bad' cholesterol levels and to help reduce the risk of heart problems, but they can cause side effects for some people.
Most people who take statins tolerate them very well. But some people experience statin side effects.
Statins are the UK's most commonly prescribed medication – and because they are common, they are often in the news – for good and bad reasons.
However, reviews continue to confirm these medications are safe to take.
Common statin side effects include:
Taking statins can also affect blood sugar levels and may increase the risk of diabetes.
Less common statin side effects include:
If a statin causes troublesome side effects, talk to your GP about changing to a different type of statin.
In some cases, statins can cause inflammation in the muscles. Make sure you report this side-effect to your doctor promptly. They can arrange a blood test called creatine kinase (CK) to check for muscle inflammation or damage.
Based on the test results, doctors may recommend stopping statins for some time until levels are normal, then trying a different statin or different dose.
The test result can be affected by doing a lot of exercise – so do tell your GP is this applies to you.
Taking statins has also been linked with a reduction in CoQ10 levels. This nutrient acts as an antioxidant which may protect cells from damage.
When should you seek medical advice if you take a statin?
Seek medical advice if you have unexplained joint or muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness while taking statins. Don't stop taking the medication without seeking medical advice first.
Before prescribing any new medication, a doctor will need to know about any other medication, supplements or herbal remedies you use in case these might affect the statins.
Make sure the doctor knows whether you are pregnant or have liver disease, as statins are not suitable in these cases.