What Are High Cholesterol Medications?Photo By: Jamie/ CC BY
Statins are a category of drugs that is used to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. These high cholesterol medications prevent heart diseases and stroke. Statins reduce the impact of heart attack strokes and death from heart disease by 25-35 percent. Statins also lower the chances of recurrent heart attacks or strokes.
Who Takes Statin Drugs?
Close to 15-2o million people take statins. These drugs lower risk factors for heart disease. Doctors take a simple blood test to assess the amount of cholesterol levels in the blood. If there are high levels of bad cholesterol, there is a greater impact of heart disease, especially when factors increase risk. Doctors can also recommend taking statins to lower cholesterol by a certain specific percent.
Not all cholesterol is wrong for you. HDL or cholesterol that is good can make a vast difference to the plaque buildup in the arteries through the transportation of bad cholesterol to the liver from the blood.
Statins work through the blockage of action of enzymes in the liver that produces cholesterol. Excess cholesterol in the blood can cause plaque build-up in the artery walls. This can lead to arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. This , in turn, can lead to increased chances of heart attack and cardiovascular stroke.
This high cholesterol blood medication lowers LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol level. Raising HDL cholesterol by lowering triglycerides, these statins can stabilize plaques in arteries. This decreases the chance of a heart attack.
Unwanted Side Effects of Statin
Most well-known side effects of statin or high cholesterol medication are listed below:
- Skin flushes
- Problems in sleeping
- Muscle aches
- Tenderness or weakness/myalgia
- Nauseous feelings/vomiting
- Pain or abdominal cramping
Other side effects of the high cholesterol lowering medication include memory loss, high blood glucose level. Mental confusion and diabetes are possible side effects.
Serious Side Effects of High Cholesterol Medication
These are associated with rare but serious side effects. High cholesterol medications can cause the following problems:
Stomach related Complaints
This includes stomachache, gas, stomach cramping, abdominal pain, and constipation. Diarrhea and stomach ache may also be accompanied by other complications.
Inflammation of the muscles is a big side effect of using statins. Certain medications if taken with statins can reduce the risk of muscular injury. Statin and fibrate are cholesterol reducing drugs which increase the risk of muscle damage.
Elevated CPK Levels
Creatine kinase or CPK levels which rise can cause muscle inflammation and pain as well as weakness. This is a serious side effect of statins and other high cholesterol medications.
One of the most common observances in people taking high cholesterol medications is muscle pain. This pain can be felt as soreness, weak feeling or tiredness. Pain can cause mild problems or even severe ones. Pain can develop at a steady rate, and there may even be life threatening muscle damage such as rhabdomyolysis. this is severe muscle pain which is associated with death due to kidney and liver damage.
High cholesterol medication can increase the enzyme level signaling inflammation of the liver. If the increase is excessive, you need to stop taking the cholesterol medication. Anemia, resin, and liver toxicity may also co-occur.
Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol medication can raise blood sugar levels and lead to type 2 diabetes. FDA has issued a warning on statin drug labels about a possible development of high blood glucose levels and diabetes.
Neurological Side Effects
Memory loss, disorientation, and confusion can also result from taking high cholesterol medication.
Risk of Developing Side Effects
While statins have side effects, some people may be more likely to develop these effects. This include:
- Female patients
- Smaller body frame
- Age 65 or older
- Kidney or liver disorder
- Drinking excessive alcohol
- Drug and foods
- Multiple medications
Certain drugs may interact with statins and increasing side effect risks:
- Amiodarone/ Pacerone, Cordarone : This is a medicine for arrhythmia
- Immunosuppressant medications: This includes cyclosporine/gengrraf, sandimmune and neoral
- Protease inhibitors: Norvir and Invirase
- Antifungal and antibiotic medications
What Causes Side Effects?
What causes side effects of cholesterol medication? This is more so for muscle pain. Well, statins and other cholesterol medicines slow the body's production of the same. While the stoppage/slowing of the cholesterol will lower the total cholesterol, cholesterol medication affects liver's production of cholesterol and numerous enzymes that affect cells leading to muscular aches.
How to Stop Side Effects
- Choose to stop the cholesterol medication therapy if this is feasible.
- Switch to another drug
- Change your dosage
- Don't do vigorous exercise coupled with statins
- Try co-enzyme Q-10 supplements
The benefits of high cholesterol medication are also considerable. Therefore, if side effects are not difficult to cope with, don't give up on statins and other such drugs. Cholesterol medications may interact with other medications. Check for other OTC medications, vitamins or alternative treatments before you can rule out drug interaction.
The most common side effects or classic symptoms included muscle ache and stiffness.
Alternatives for High Cholesterol Medication
If these medications are not suiting you, you need to consider nutritional supplements, vitamins, and herbs. Natural cholesterol treatments such as red yeast rice have been beneficial too. Niacin is a vitamin which can benefit those with high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor before taking OTC medication or supplementation to lower the cholesterol.
If cholesterol reducing medication leads to difficult side effects which cannot be coped with at other times, or if one if taking a low dosage, the medication should be accompanied by lifestyle changes. It is important to have lifestyle changes which ensure that the medication does not lead to side effects. This includes a healthy diet and adequate exercise. This can cut down on the need for medication and eliminate the possibility of side effects.
Side effects are common for every kind of medication. What is important to remember is that the frequency, intensity, and nature of symptoms may vary. This is why each cause is unique, and you need individualized medical care in case you develop these side effects.