Cholesterol helps in the normal function of cells in the body and makes up acids for digestion of food. However, it can also contribute to atherosclerosis whereby plaques from bad cholesterol form within arteries. Statins consist a class of drugs that help to lower the level of cholesterol in blood. These medicines reduce the synthesis of cholesterol by liver. Normally, the body gets its cholesterol in two ways. One is dietary cholesterol that is derived from the diet that people take and second, the liver makes cholesterol for the body. When bad cholesterol also known as the low-density lipoprotein flows in blood stream, it leaves a plaque that accumulates in walls of arteries. The plaque blocks and narrows the arteries thus preventing the smooth flow of blood. This results in atherosclerosis.
Here is a list of FDA-approved statins;
Statins are used in prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis that causes impaired blood flow within arteries. Reduced flow of blood can lead to heart attack, angina or chest pain, and stroke. It may also cause pain in legs, a condition known as intermittent claudication. Statins will help slow the formation of plaques and reduce the size of existing plaques.
Besides, statins may also make the plaque less prone to rupturing as well as development of clots. Patients with high levels of cholesterol are placed on statins to lower the production of cholesterol by liver. This class of drugs has shown the ability to reduce incidents of strokes, heart attacks, and death in patients.
Statins Side Effects
Using statins to treat and prevent atherosclerosis can induce side effects on patients. There are also serious side effects like rhabdomyolysis and liver failure. Rhabdomyolysis, though a rare side effect, it involves damage to muscles. The condition manifests in form of muscle pain and progresses to loss of the muscle cells. Kidney failure may occur and eventually lead to death. If a patient, experiences unexplained pain of the muscles or joint when using any of statins, he or she should seek medical attention immediately to be evaluated of possible side effects. Statins should not be used by patients who are expectant or pregnant because there is risk of harm to the fetus. Common side effects include:
- Muscle pain
Statins can interact with other drugs and result in harmful effects on the body. One interaction is that involving the enzymes that aid the liver to eliminate the statins in the body. Drugs that could block action of such liver enzymes, may contribute to rhabdomyolysis or damage of muscles.
Before taking statins, inform your doctor of other medications you are using, determining if it is safe to use them along with statins. Statins also interact with fibric acids and niacin. Considering that niacin and fibric acids are associated with liver failure and rhabdomyolysis when used alone, it means that if they are combined with statins, it increases the chances of suffering from these conditions.