The search is on to take pain out of statin use 164



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Statins are a popular and easy-to-swallow option for people looking to lower their cholesterol. But for as many as a quarter of patients, the medication can cause muscle pain, stiffness, cramps, or weakness, along with other side effects.

These symptoms can affect people so much they stop using the drugs, potentially putting themselves at risk of heart attack and stroke.

Now Dutch researchers believe they have pinpointed the cause of the muscle pain linked with statin use. By studying mice and humans, a team at the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands say a particular kind of statin, which is already present in the body, may affect cells at a mitochondrial level – the mitochondria being the “powerhouse” or digestive system of a cell.

Statins exist in the body in two chemical forms, acid and lactone. Most statins are administered (as a tablet) in their acid form, which slows down the production of cholesterol in the liver. The acid form can turn into the lactone form within the body, but lactone has no therapeutic effect.

The Dutch study found that lactones can unintentionally interfere with a mitochondrial pathway that produces the cell’s energy currency, possibly causing the side effects.

The hope is that this research can help develop new classes of cholesterol-lowering drugs without the unwanted muscle effects.

In their study, they were able to reduce lactone’s ability to interfere with mitochondrial function, which is early evidence that side effects could be prevented or reversed.

Some of the other side effects associated with statins are liver damage, which is monitored in those using the drugs; digestive problems, such as nausea, gas, diarrhoea or constipation; rashes and flushing; increased blood sugar levels; and some neurological side effects such as memory loss and confusion.

In January this year, it was reported that many people had stopped taking their statins following a Four Corners program questioning their effectiveness. Always check with your doctor before making changes to your medication.


Have you had any experience with the side effects of statins? Would you take them knowing the potential side effects? 

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  1. In a lot of instances, if people ate correctly and exercised efficiently, they would have no need to be on the statins in the first place…neverlone then go on another drug to try and correct the side effects of the first drug..the big pharma loves

    18 REPLY
    • Some people have eaten properly, exercised properly and have done all these things all of their life ! And still need that medication !!give them a break !

    • And I am 68 and have eaten properly and exercised and played sport and go to a Curves a Gym 4-5 times a week and weigh 57 kg !! Sometimes hereditary comes into play !!

    • Totally agree Isabel Brown – I know people who have done all the right things, exercised and eaten correctly and still have high cholesterol levels so Jan Ball need to get off your high horse.

    • Correct – my family history is proif of that Isabel Brown@ Its like people sadly get lung cancer and have never smoked lived healthy lives. One can’t generalise and make sweeping statements. I agree living healthy helps and should be encouraged but cannot prevent certain problems!!

    • Hmmmm. I did say….in a lot of instances….i am referring to those people, who are aware of their high cholesteral, order iced coffee with cream and a cream cake for lunch, after their deep fried fish and chips..who comnent and say..i dont have to worry about high cholesteral, i am on statins……the people who are diabetic and will jab themselves in the stomach so they can eat a whole pizza…

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      • There are two types of cholesterol….one produced by the food you eat and the other is produced by your body….in this instance you need tablets to control it… your research….

    • My husband is also a Diabetic ,and has been for thirty years ,and he is on high statin level Medications – and Insulin and has watched his diet and exercise all of his life – hereditary – Type Two Diabetes ! – And because of so much medication over the years,he became Vitamin B12 deficient, and has to have B12 injections every two months ! So please do NOT ,do not link him in the categories you are describing ! Give me a break ! And give all of those other people you are criticising , a break also ! Get your info correct , before you espouse advice ! And have a look at your life!

    • Yes agree with comments about being hereditary.
      I have exercised most of my life, eaten well, but what can you do when your maternal grandfather died of heart attack at 28, mother had heart attack at 67 with elevated cholesterol levels. My father also had elevated levels of cholesterol.
      So unfortunately it’s genetic in my case 🙁

    • And all major statins are now off-patent so big pharma really gets very little out of them any more

    • This comment only shows a lack of understanding of how different we all are. Its great if you were born with good genes, some of us were not and daily healthy living takes much more effort. We need to mentally walk a mile in another’s shoes before judging.

    • My right Carotid artery was almost completely blocked, I had surgery early this year to unblock it, the Doctor initially told me it was my lifestyle until I had a CT scan when they found it was actually a malformation of my arteries, I had an angiogram which showed I have no plaque anywhere else. I have been on a strict diet for years due to food intolerances including diary so I didn’t eat fats or other problem foods. I am about to turn 60 soon, wish it was as simple as diet but it isn’t.

    • I was told by a person who works in s health store they are banned in USA and England now! Is she right ?

    • Jan genetics plays a big part.
      If you have a parent who died of AMI at 60 or under, there’s big chance you will too so need to do something as well as proper food.

    • Well Jan Ball, my husband does not have any risk factors except family history of heart disease (from his English ancestors) and high cholesterol. He is a good weight, gets heaps of exercise and eats the right things. His cardiologist said he could probably eat cardboard and still have high cholesterol. He is nearly 72 and still works 6-7 days a week on our farm. He had a heart attack 9 years ago and has 2 stents. He only takes 1 heart tablet each day, and his vitamins and magnesium. He takes Blackmores Cholesterol capsules, which balance his cholesterol.

  2. i threw mine in the bin,gave me cramp my husband got covered in a rash… my mum and every old person i know and they all lived to late 80s and 90s never took any of these drugs. i think at times its just a way for the drug companies to get rich

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  3. I have tried two different types of statin and both of them have caused me aches and pains so i am not taking any and the aches and pains have lessened……

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  4. I stopped taking them as I was suffering from sleeplessness and cramps. Now on something else which hasn’t had the side effects. Before going on the alternative I did try controlling cholesterol by diet alone but it didn’t work.

  5. I take Vytorin which is a statin, I can’t say if I’m suffering side effects because of type 2 diabetes and back injury but doc has me monitored with blood tests regularly.

    1 REPLY
  6. I stopped taking lipitor about 3 years ago because of the muscle and joint pain and rightly or wrongly blame the drug for the ongoing problem.

    1 REPLY
  7. Actually Jan Ball, I was told by my doctors that the type of cholesterol I have is genetically aquired. Of course diet and exercise is important but I will still need to take medication.

    8 REPLY
    • Try cutting back on sugar as my husband has. Ask your phamacist if natural cholesterol lowering product interacts with your statins. You may be able to take both, and gradually reduce the statins. The only risk factor my husband has is hereditary heart disease. He is very fit and healthy otherwise.

    • I am extreme fit and healthy. My husband and I trek. He carries a 20 kilo pack and I carry a 8 kilo pack. We love our trekking holidays and we train consistently all year. We also eat very healthy and maintain a healthy weight. My doctor says that there is nothing more that I can do and medication is the only think that bought my cholesterol down. My doctor says my liver makes too much.

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