Statins are a class of prescription drugs used to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. They reduce the amount of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and increase the amount of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. In doing this, they also help prevent heart attacks and stroke.
Statins work by blocking the action of the liver enzymes responsible for producing cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in the blood can result in the buildup of plaque in the arteries. The buildup can eventually cause the arteries to narrow and harden. This can lead to sudden bloods clots, which may result in a heart attack or stroke.
Statins are the most effective when they are taken by patients who lead a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living to increase the effectiveness of statins includes: eating a balanced and low-fat diet, engaging in regular physical activity, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking.
Types of Statin Medications
There are various types of statin medications approved for use in the United States. Statins arrived on the market in the 1980s. Since then, they have become one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States, with about 17 million users. Some of the statin medications include:
- Lipitor® (atorvastatin)
- Mevacor® or Altocor® (lovastatin)
- Zocor® (simvastatin)
- Pravachol® (pravastatin)
- Lescol® (fluvastatin)
- Crestor® (rosuvastatin)
Important Information about Statins
Statins have many proven benefits. However, they also carry the risk of side effects, some of which can cause serious health issues. The most common statin side effects include muscle pain, tenderness and weakness.
Many people who take this type of medication experience aching in their shoulders, pain in the jaw or muscle pain in the legs. The pain is a result of the muscle breakdown occurring in the body due to the statin drug. While most people who experience muscle pain will return to normal after discontinuing statin use, some more susceptible individuals may suffer from more serious conditions.
Dangers of Statins
People who take this type of drug may be at risk of developing severe and sometimes fatal health conditions. Patients should be aware of the dangers of statins and the potential for statins to breakdown muscle tissue and cause myopathy.
Myopathy is usually characterized by unexplained muscle weakness or pain and can be a debilitating condition. When the muscle tissue breaks down, the body must eliminate the excess tissue waste, causing the kidneys to become overloaded. This can result in a more serious form of myopathy called rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdomyolysis occurs when damaged skeletal muscle tissue fibers break down and the muscle fibers are released into the bloodstream. Symptoms of this condition include:
- Muscle pain
- Dark red or cola-colored urine
If the kidneys are overloaded with excessive deteriorated muscle tissue, the patient is at risk of acute kidney failure and death.
Statin medications have also been linked to an increase in the risk of neuropathy. Short for peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy is a malfunction of the peripheral nervous system that occurs without any inflammation of the nerves. The human nervous system consists of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal chord) and the peripheral nervous system (all the other nerves). The peripheral nervous system controls autonomic or automatic function of the body like breathing.
There are many causes of neuropathy including injury or the presence of toxic or poisonous drugs in the body. Researchers believe that the buildup of statins in the body can cause neuropathy in some individuals. Muscle weakness is a common symptom of neuropathy. Other symptoms include:
- Pricking sensations
- Burning pain
- Sensitivity to touch
If left undiagnosed, neuropathy can lead to deterioration of the muscles and paralysis.
If you or someone you love has suffered a serious side effect from a statin medication, you should consider speaking to a Zocor® attorney about your right to compensation. To schedule a free case review, please contact us today.