Being prescribed a traditional statin to help assist with lowering your body’s cholesterol may not seem risky or potentially dangerous. However, there are a few possible side effects that can quickly become toxic and life-threatening, regardless of your age. Understanding the risks and dangers of statins is necessary to make the right decision when you are prescribed one, along with alternative options you have available to help lower your cholesterol and eliminate the threat it poses to your body long-term.
What Does a Statin Do for the Body?
Statins are the class of drugs prescribed for patients with high cholesterol. They are supposed to reduce overall blood cholesterol in the body while working to prevent heart disease (atherosclerosis). The drugs work by reducing the liver’s total production of cholesterol, blocking an enzyme used by the liver to create cholesterol. The specific enzyme that is blocked is known as HMG CoA Reductase. When a statin works properly, individuals are able to keep cholesterol levels in their blood down and controlled, which is supposed to allow one to live a longer and healthier life.
Dangerous Side Effects
Some of the most common side effects associated with traditional statins include headaches, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, flushing of the skin, and muscle aches and weakness (myalgia). While these side effects can become troublesome and interrupting to daily life, they are some of the more mild side effects and risks that come with taking a statin.
Some patients have also reported extensive memory loss and confusion, although there are little studies to prove cause and effect of this experienced side effect. Take notes of any and all symptoms you have in a daily journal to keep better track of how your statins may potentially be affecting you prior to your next doctor visit. If you experience any of these while prescribed a statin, be sure to speak with your doctor about alternative solutions and ways to reduce the outcome of the medication.
Although most medications often have a few side effects (that do not impact all individuals), statins also pose a dangerous risk to overall health and well-being in more severe cases. Many individuals who take statins prescribed to them regularly report muscle pain, weakness, and fatigue, which can quickly interrupt everyday activities and keep patients from continuing on the path of an active way of life.
However, there is a more life-threatening risk of taking statins that can cause a condition known as rhabdomyolysis . Rhabdomyolysis is known to trigger liver damage, severe muscle damage and pain, along with kidney failure if not monitored properly with the right tests and medication adjustments. Although it is quite rare to experience rhabdomyolysis, users who take high doses of statins or combine statins with other medications should always request liver and kidney function tests when experiencing muscle pain or any of the more common side effects associated with the drug.
It is also possible for an individual’s blood glucose (sugar) level to rise while taking statins, leading to type 2 diabetes. Checking your sugar levels when getting blood work done is always recommended for those prescribed this class of drugs, especially if you eat a diet high in carbohydrates, sugar, or if you are overweight.
Are There Alternative Solutions Rather Than Taking a Statin?
One of the biggest alternative solutions to taking a prescribed statin is to turn to a heart-healthy diet. Whether you are simply reducing the amount of fat, sugar, or carbohydrates you are taking in or you are opting for an alternate eating lifestyle altogether (such as paleo or ketogenic), sticking to one way of eating and learning more about nutrition is one of the best methods of providing your body relief while lowering cholesterol.
Eliminate “bad fats” along with processed foods while incorporating more vegetables, fresh meats, and nuts. Rid junk food and packaged snacks from your eating habits as these often contain trans fats and other ingredients that are not beneficial to the heart and body. Eliminate soda and sugary drinks and instead, opt for red wines when drinking alcohol, water for everyday thirst-quenching, and tea for a tasty beverage. Consuming soda and sugary drinks regularly quickly add to the damage to your heart and liver, making it more difficult to naturally lower cholesterol.
Exercise regularly a few times a week, even if you are simply walking to keep your blood flow moving properly while allowing your heart to rebuild its muscle (to ultimately work better over time).
With the right information and a thorough understanding of statins, their use, and potential side effects, make an informed choice when speaking with your doctor or incorporating radical changes into your own everyday life. Having true knowledge of all risks that statins pose as well as all of your alternative options and solutions is a way to make a decision that is personal and right for you and the lifestyle you desire.
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