Statin Drugs- To Take or not to Take?
It is true that these drugs lower your cholesterol levels. However, these medicines have a lots of side effects too.
Your doctor has to review the situation and weigh the positive effects vs the side effects of these medications in your case before prescribing these medicines to you on a regular basis.
When Are Statins Given?
Statins, like simvastatin, atorvastatin or lovastatin, are used these days in patients suffering form heart problems. They aid in controlling and lowering down the overall cholesterol levels in your blood.
As the lipid levels in blood decline, chances of artery blockage, especially in finer arteries like the coronary arteries, decreases. This reduces chances of sudden heart pains.
How this happens is to be properly understood. If your blood has excess of fat, specifically bad, that is, sticky cholesterol in it, there are chances that in may get deposited over the inner lining of the arteries. Such deposition is called fatty streaks.
The finer the blood vessels, more are the chances that streaks get developed in it. Fatty streaks may grow in size by gradual deposition of salts in it. It may grow to a substantial size, enough to cause a reduction in blood supply draining that organ.
Side Effects of Statins
This is the commonest side effect of statin drugs and also the one to appear fist.
One may feel weakness in the legs or arms. early fatigue is a common complain.
Sometimes, there is frank pain in the legs, almost like cramps. This usually happens after walking or exercising much.
Nausea, Gastric Upsets
Statins drugs may disturb your GIT. You may have excessive bloating or gas production.
Sometimes, a mixed picture having diarrhea and constipation alternatively may be there.
Increase in Blood Sugar Levels
A long term course of statin intake may make you prone to improper glucose utilization. This may lead gradually to development of a diabetes like picture.
However, this effect is reversible. As you stop taking the drug, the effects fade away.
Disturbed Brain Function
Long term statin intake may precipitate Alzheimer’s. The patient may appear confused, with reduced alertness.
How Do They Work?
These drugs work by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme is present in the liver and is responsible in making of body cholesterol.
Inhibition of this enzyme results in reduction of cholesterol production. As lesser cholesterol is produced in the body, the overall cholesterol level in the body lowers down.
Some commonly used statin drugs include, simvastatin, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin etc.
Reason Behind These Side Effects
The action of statin drugs is inhibition of a liver enzyme and reducing the production of cholesterol by it.
As the drug does it work, it acts on many other enzymes inside the liver apart from HMG CoA reductase.
Many other enzymes that take care of muscle growth in the body are also affected.
So, one may feel muscle aches after prolonged statin use.
Health status of the liver needs to be assessed frequently, to assure that there is minimum damage to this organ.